Aero Service Levels are Measured in More than Megabytes

Denis SutherlandIn-flight connectivity is becoming a standard expectation of modern air travel. From passengers watching live television and pilots checking weather patterns to crewmembers swiping credit cards and monitoring fuel levels, VSAT networks are driving loyalty, revenue and productivity.

Recently I presented at the GVF AERO Connect 2016 conference it was not a surprise that everyone wants more. And that more is going to come from HTS capacity translated into networks that can run at hundreds of Mbps. NSR reports that 18,000 aircraft will be powered by capacity from High Throughput Satellites by 2025, accounting for $2.8 billion in revenue.

But here’s the catch. High-quality airline connectivity cannot be boiled down simply to the speed of a satellite router. At iDirect, we believe that the ultimate guarantee of service performance depends a complete solution that will meet the demanding expectations of in-flight connectivity.

We heard from leading satellite operator that the key challenge is managing complex SLAs across a large coverage area that spans multiple spot beams. Think of hundreds of airlines all needing different bandwidth levels as they soar across spot beams and dish out bandwidth to diverse users onboard running dynamic applications. That’s incredibly difficult. And if not done well, it doesn’t matter how many megabytes a router can handle.

iDirect's Denis SutherlandThe solution is what iDirect calls Global Bandwidth Management. It provides network operators with the option of pooling satellite capacity across multiple spot beams, then logically partitioning bandwidth across airlines through the creation of group service plans that can be dynamically configured.

Airlines can manage the use of bandwidth across an airline’s entire fleet to prioritize service levels based on multiple criteria, including bandwidth profiles for individual aircraft or even specific onboard applications.

iDirect’s complete aero platform also delivers these capabilities:

  • Automatic Beam Switching. An aircraft can automatically connect to satellite beams as it travels across multiple footprints without the need for manual intervention.
  • Global Network Management System. Airlines can track each onboard remote with a consistent IP address to monitor its status and ensure a high-quality connection.
  • Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum. iDirect’s spread spectrum waveform mitigates satellite interference common with ultra-small antennas or phased-array antennas, while maintaining a reliable and efficient link.
  • OpenAMIP. An industry wide, open-source IP based protocol that facilitates the exchange of information between the airborne antenna and the satellite router.
  • As well as technologies to mitigate skew angles and compensate for the Doppler Effect. So what’s requires for next-generation aero VSAT networks? Faster data rates? Absolutely – and a whole lot more.

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