NBAA-BACE: SES and Thales demonstrate integrated GEO/MEO network for in-flight connectivity

SES and Thales have demonstrated uninterrupted access to high-throughput broadband applications for the first time over a platform supporting multi-orbit interoperability.

The demo flight from Melbourne, Florida to the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua saw dozens of switches successfully completed between SES’s geostationary (GEO) and O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite beams, using the Hughes JUPITER Aeronautical system high performance airborne modem system.

Engineers aboard the test flight were able to simultaneously use a broad range of bandwidth-hungry services demonstrating rates in excess of 265 Mbps via the Thales FlytLIVE connectivity network featuring the Hughes JUPITER System and a Hughes ModMan integrated with the ThinKom Ka2517 phased-array airborne antenna. Leveraging the same high-powered, low-latency O3b MEO capacity that has already redefined connectivity at sea, the engineers were able to demonstrate quality and reliable delivery of 4K video streaming, super-fast social media networking, e-commerce transactions, audio conferencing, interactive gaming and web browsing on-board the Gulfstream G-III aircraft.

“The world’s first low-latency, high performance broadband aero experience is closer than ever before with this tremendously successful demonstration of MEO and GEO interoperability. Driving scale and performance into our customers’ networks is fundamental in delivering the best passenger experience in the skies. Our cruise customers have long experienced the benefits of the combined power that low latency MEO- and GEO-based connectivity brings to network performance and resilience. This innovation is now on its way for connected commercial and business air travel,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES.

Philippe Carette, chief executive officer, Thales InFlyt Experience commented: “This proof-of-concept demonstration introduces an operational Hybrid network that will provide satellite network redundancy with continuous and seamless high-speed internet in areas otherwise hindered by congestion. The system offers a consistent passenger experience gate-to-gate; Ka-band coverage on routes where GEO satellites do not currently exist; and is fully compatible with the new SES-17 satellite built by Thales Alenia Space that is scheduled to enter commercial service in early 2021.”

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