Many in aviation are counting on the Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band satellite network to gain a competitive edge. However, testing new GX applications, as with any other satcom-enabled application for that matter, usually requires an airplane at your disposal, and still you cannot control conditions.
A new product now makes it possible to perform testing of GX solutions on the ground, saving time and money while allowing developers to expose applications to a wide range of scenarios.
The Danish satcom-company, GateHouse Telecom, has applied new features to the company’s flagship product, the Global Xpress Link Emulator (GLE), which specifically target the challenges encountered in aviation.
“When performing on-air testing for aircraft-applications, you must bring a terminal and antenna with you on board the airplane, and you must maintain line of sight to the satellite throughout the test. Furthermore, you cannot control weather conditions and expose your application to rough weather, such as thunder and rain. But with our new Aero-features, developers can emulate a flight trip and expose their solution to different challenges that may occur during a voyage. This enables an efficient way to test and document solutions response to common distortions,” said Svend Holme Sørensen, Product Manager at GateHouse Telecom.
With the GLE, testing is not only brought down to earth, but also indoors, as line-of-sight is not needed. It’s also a valuable tool for sales. “Developers and re-sellers can set up and demonstrate their applications to potential customers indoors, e.g. at tradeshows and conferences. All they need is the GLE, a laptop, internet connection and cables,” noted Holme Sørensen.
Connectivity is a must-have for most airlines today. Eighty-two carriers now offer inflight Wi-Fi, which is a 17 % increase since last year, according to the 2018 Wi-Fi Report by Routehappy.
Airlines across the globe are building their connectivity and are making considerable investments in GX solutions to enhance the passenger experience. The German carrier, Deutsche Lufthansa Group, was among the first to secure a GX powered end-to-end connectivity solution that enhances the passenger experience and brand value. Their visionary approach has placed them among the world’s leading digital airlines.
“As we move further into the era of ‘Connectivity’, the year 2018 and beyond is likely to see the aviation industry incorporating more and more onboard systems and hereby normalizing inflight Wi-Fi for passengers,” said Thomas Jensen, Director at GateHouse Telecom.
Specialized Features Tailored for Flight Applications
The GLE is an off-air test tool that emulates a Ka-band connection with realistic bandwidth and latency. It is already used by leaders in the global satcom market, such as Honeywell, VT iDirect and Inmarsat. Gatehouse has now built on the GLE-technology and applied new features designed specifically for developers servicing the aviation industry.
Satellite switching and handover imitates satellite switch, which is of course necessary for fast-moving applications such as GX solutions on airplanes.
“The GLE allows developers to regulate bandwidth automatically by fading profiles, which can be adjusted by fade-in and out to a given level or programmed prior to testing, to fade over time at a given average level, standard deviation and rate of change. It all depends on the parameters the user wants to test,” said Holme Sørensen.
With the new features, the GLE can also manipulate SNR levels to emulate poor bandwidth caused by bad weather conditions or excessive use.
“The new features make the GLE more flexible and able to fully emulate any situation an application might experience when used on an airplane. With the GLE you can interface to a Network Service Device (NSD), so developers can imitate a scenario that force the application to switch between GX and BGAN. This mode can be used to test the NSD, but also all applications attached to it,” said Holme Sørensen.
Last but not least, an open API provides developers and testers with a programmable interface for automizing test setup, execution, monitoring and extract of test results.
Even though the new features are primarily built for developers servicing the aviation industry, they can also be used to test other software solutions, such as applications made for developers and users that are exposed to rough weather conditions, for instance maritime operators or Southeast Asia during the monsoon season.
New GLE features:
- Satellite Switching and Handover: imitates when the airplane switch satellites
- Fading Profiles: regulates bandwidth both automatically and manually.
- Bandwidth adapted to SNR: emulates poor bandwidth – for example caused by bad weather conditions.
- NSD: imitate a scenario that force the application to switch between GX and BGAN.
- Open API: a programmable and highly adjustable interface.
Find further information about the Global Xpress Link Emulator (GLE) here
About GateHouse Telecom A/S
GateHouse Telecom is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GateHouse Holding Group that also holds the subsidiaries, GateHouse Logistics and GateHouse Maritime. For more than a decade, GateHouse Telecom has provided the satellite communications industry with a range of market-leading software products for commercial, government and military use. With deep knowledge and understanding of global communications infrastructures and platforms, GateHouse Telecom also offers consultancy services for software, hardware and system integration as well as for the preparation and evaluation of international tenders.