OneWeb, a global communications network, has signed an agreement with SatixFy UK, a multibeam antenna and terminal design specialist, to develop an inflight connectivity (IFC) terminal that will work over the OneWeb network as well as on geostationary (GEO) satellite networks. The agreement has also led SatixFy UK to form JetTalk, a joint venture with Singapore Technology Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), to exclusively commercialise the IFC terminal for commercial aviation markets.
The IFC terminal will use OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation to deliver what the company describes as a ‘home-equivalent’ inflight broadband experience, while also allowing operators to complement their legacy GEO service. The terminal is based on SatixFy UK’s electronically steered multibeam antenna (ESMA) technology, developed together with JetTalk. The setup provides multibeam capability and can operate simultaneously on multiple LEO and GEO satellites.
SatixFy UK reports that it has brought the ESMA technology to market earlier than it had originally anticipated, having recently completed the development of Tx tiles with 576 elements and Rx tiles with 1,024 elements, which can be used as building blocks for the planned terminal. Initial testing of the tiles, co-developed with JetTalk, has been completed and they are currently being implemented inside a terminal product. The OneWeb IFC terminal will integrate the OneWeb modem as well as a GEO network modem, inside the terminal.
The agreement has been made as part of OneWeb’s ambitions in the global aerospace arena as it sets out its roadmap to support commercial, regional, business and government aviation users. Ben Griffin, VP for mobility at OneWeb said, “OneWeb is creating IFC solutions which offer a significant increase in the whole passenger travelling experience. This agreement with SatixFy represents a major milestone for OneWeb Aviation, as we plot our path to facilitating onboard connectivity, globally, on commercial airliners and corporate jets, large and small.”
“The ability to deploy multibeam, multi-satellite, multi-orbit IFC terminals is key in SatixFy’s offering, developed in partnership with ST Engineering through our JetTalk joint venture,” added Yoel Gat, CEO of SatixFy UK. “Aggregating capacity from multiple satellites will give customers the grade of service they expect on flights.”
This partners have stated that the technical advances have been made possible thanks to support from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency.
Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA said, “Space and satellites are becoming increasingly important to the digital economy and there is a need to get data all the time and everywhere – even at 35,000ft. ESA is proud to have supported SatixFy in the design of the chips used for this terminal – enabling the digital transformation of society using telecommunications satellites.”