Terminal demonstrates in-flight network switching across commercial Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks
The test flights, conducted in July and August on a commercial 757-200 aircraft, demonstrated the state of the art in broadband enroute communications with the aircraft transitioning among multiple satellite beams from six satellites and three Ku- and Ka-band networks.
"For enroute airborne missions, seamless roaming on the best available broadband network can assure our customers continuous operation on a resilient enterprise network," said Ken Peterman, VP ViaSat Government Systems. "This demonstration was an important step in realizing that vision."
The test flights validated ViaSat’s "best available service" premise, a concept that borrows from mobile cellular communications. Similar to the way a cell phone roams between 3g and 4g or LTE, seamless satellite network-switching can benefit customers in the same way, as higher performance satellite coverage areas are introduced to new regions. The flights proved the feasibility of switching between commercial Ku- and Ka-band satellites, and between different broadband airborne networks. The airborne broadband terminal integrated a ViaSat Ku/Ka-band antenna with ViaSat mobile and broadband modems, and a third-party modem.
Over the past year, ViaSat Exede® in-flight internet has enabled broadband satcom communications on 200 commercial aircraft operating over the ViaSat high-capacity Ka-band satellite network in North America. The company has also significantly expanded its global Ku- broadband airborne network to address enroute connectivity for business aircraft. Multiple service tiers are available that provide increasing levels of priority access to assure performance when and where it’s needed.
System testing encompassed a number of typical applications for enroute connectivity. Testing showed that the dual-band system offered high-performance communications with these attributes:
- Concurrent operation of networking applications such as VoIP, HD videoconferencing, email, internet, messaging, and very large file transfers;
- In-flight link speeds up to 29 Mbps to and 7 Mbps from the aircraft on these Ku- and Ka-band commercial satellites: SES-1, SES-2, AMC-16, ViaSat-1, WildBlue-1, and ANIK-F2;
- Operation using data protocols including UDP, TCP, Web, and FTP to gather performance information;
- Video streaming including live HD television and HD video on-demand movies.