In conjunction with the rollout of its 4G LTE-based network, SmartSky Networks recently enabled multiple subject matter experts to experience, firsthand, the unmatched power of its patented inflight connectivity during flights on its Cessna Citation Excel in the skies above Las Vegas.
A number of OEMs, MROs, potential partners and Early Bird customers attending the National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) attempted to push the system to its limits, and in the process, learned that SmartSky 4G LTE is the only system capable of delivering multi-Gigabyte per hour data rates inflight, bi-directionally and with low latency, effectively redefining what it means to be able to stream, chat and text in real-time onboard a business jet.
“I experienced how SmartSky enables a strong level of productivity on a plane with a sizable passenger load,” says Scott Brooks, Director of Avionics Solutions for Pentastar Aviation. “It gives you the ability to pull PowerPoint presentations to the aircraft, conduct video-streaming calls without latency, buffering or interruptions to service. The SmartSky system will be a game changer for business aviation, allowing companies that depend on being able to conduct business while in the air the ability to do so efficiently, regardless of the amount of passengers on board.”
A comprehensive analysis of the data operations during the demonstration flights confirmed SmartSky 4G LTE’s unrivaled speed and capacity. Over three days, passengers on 12 flights experienced:
- Multi-GB per hour actual data throughput consistently on each flight.
- Actual peak speeds well in excess of 10 Mbps, with individually run speed tests showing high multi-Mbps bidirectional data rates, as well.
- Average return link traffic representing nearly 25 percent of the data, with one flight pushing 46 percent of its data off the plane. No other inflight connectivity network supports these crucially needed ratios to run the popular applications customers expect to use. Without SmartSky 4G LTE’s return link and low latency, customers are limited to the few applications other networks support.
- Average of more than 50 seamless beam handovers per flight, proving the most difficult engineering aspect of the system works, and demonstrating the system’s inherent scalability.
SmartSky demonstrated capabilities previously difficult or impossible to consistently achieve on either the incumbent’s ATG network or new satellite systems, such as conducting a live WebEx, or quickly sending large PowerPoint files, all while other onboard passengers were doing multiple streaming sessions. The innovative beamforming power of the network enables bi-directional live communications, at speeds that match Wi-Fi on the ground.
SmartSky’s 4G LTE nationwide network deployment involves many steps on the way to a transformative air-to-ground connectivity solution, including secure datacenters strategically located in California, Colorado and Virginia that are already operational. SmartSky is currently in manufacturing with its proprietary antennas and ground stations, deploying them nationwide on existing cell towers as the equipment rolls off the production lines. The company estimates initial nationwide coverage will be available in mid-2018, with Satcom Direct (SD) serving as its exclusive business aviation service provider.
For a limited time, customers can sign up to take advantage of SmartSky’s Network Launch Promotion, which rewards them with bonus data. It also includes an unlimited data option (subject to terms and conditions) that represents the lowest price per GB in airborne connectivity. Customers can then install the SmartSky 4G LTE system later, when each aircraft model’s supplemental type certificate (STC) becomes available. The STC processes for many popular aircraft are underway and expected to be available in mid-2018. SmartSky recommends that customers ask their dealer to pre-provision their aircraft if annual maintenance is planned in the first half of 2018.
“Years of research, development, and patents were on display during those demo flights,” says SmartSky Networks President Ryan Stone. “We asked customers to try any application they could think of, and to do as much online as they could, all at the same time. Guests conducted real-time global video conversations. They streamed without buffering. Used their phones. Easily accessed their corporate cloud. Did multiple VPN sessions. They put our system to the test and SmartSky consistently delivered on our long-held promise of a home or office internet experience in the sky.”
ABOUT SMARTSKY NETWORKS
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, SmartSky Networks was formed in 2011 by senior aviation and telecommunications executives seeking to transform aviation using disruptive communications technologies and related tools. Working with leading aerospace and technology partners, SmartSky has begun the rollout of its innovative, air-to-ground network, SmartSky 4G LTE. The network takes advantage of patented spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming technologies and 60 MHz of spectrum for significantly enhanced connectivity. SmartSky 4G LTE delivers data to the aircraft with speeds comparable to next generation satellite solutions and provides unmatched speeds for data transmissions off the aircraft. This real-time, low latency, bidirectional link makes SmartSky 4G LTE a key enabler for the new and enhanced apps, services and hardware that will usher in the digitization of the aviation industry. www.smartskynetworks.com