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Today, advancements in satellite technology are making it possible to deliver cost-effective broadband communications services to aircraft operating at very high rates of speed. As a result of these advancements, commercial, government, and military organizations alike are leveraging the power of broadband by satellite—in the air.
As the demand for high-speed Internet access explodes around the world, Wi-Fi hotspots are popping up everywhere from São Paulo to Nova Scotia, from Beijing to Bangalore. Now, thanks to advanced Hughes satellite technology, they’re taking off for the skies.
Major U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines is equipping its 540 Boeing 737 jetliners with an onboard high-speed, wireless Internet system supplied by Row 44, a leader in airborne broadband communications. Powered by a Hughes HX satellite communications platform and nationwide broadband connectivity utilizing Hughes teleport facilities in Las Vegas, the Row 44 system enables Southwest to offer passengers high-speed Web browsing, email, text messaging, and video services using their Wi-Fi-enabled cellphones, PDAs, and laptop computers.
Row 44 is creatively named for the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, considered the least desirable part of the plane—near the bathroom and without reclining seats. Because what could be better than broadband to make that row highly desirable?
“We think Internet access will become standard on all airlines in the near future and that our service will be aboard more than 5,000 airliners within five years,” said Gregg Fialcowitz, president of Row 44.
With onboard Wi-Fi Internet access at speeds comparable to terrestrial broadband, the Row 44 solution offers a full range of connectivity services. Its IPTV capability features live international television programming, as well as an extensive library of on-demand content. And the in-flight mobile phone service via picocells enables customers to use their cellphones for text messaging and emails, and to use cellphones and VoIP handsets for voice, where permitted.
“Row 44 opens up a worldwide opportunity for Hughes to supply our advanced broadband satellite technology and services in this new niche market, representing an emerging part of our global enterprise business,” said Peter Pardee, vice president, Business Development at Hughes.”
But it’s not just customers who can benefit from Row 44’s new aeronautical services. The innovative broadband solution can also help manage many crew and airline operations, such as equipment and systems monitoring, “cashless cabin” realtime credit card authorizations, cabin surveillance, maintenance and service requests, and the delivery of weather and route information.
Today, with its aeronautical broadband service powered by Hughes satellite technology, Row 44 is truly giving broadband wings—a longawaited innovation whose time has come.
At the same time, recent advances in airborne broadband are showing enormous potential for providing high-quality video to enable crucial situational awareness on the ground for border patrols, military reconnaissance, and other government applications.
Hughes, in conjunction with partners Row 44, TECOM Industries, Inc., Streambox, and Intelsat General Corporation, has developed a groundbreaking airborne video solution, which was successfully demonstrated to a key government agency earlier this year. The demonstration confirmed full D-1 video resolution at air-to-ground user data rates of over 2 Mbps. (Read more.)
The Hughes Airborne Video Solution employs a high-performance Hughes HX router and HX ExpertNMS, its advanced network management system with a highly intuitive and interactive interface to optimize performance and productivity. Hughes is building on its commercial aviation broadband offering, facilitating adoption of a COTS-based solution by the airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) community.
The demo took place on Row 44’s flying testbed aircraft, based out of Camarillo, California, and outfitted with TECOM Industries, Inc. KuStream™ 1000 bi-directional Ku-band antenna, and Streambox’s highly secure video coding and viewing subsystem. Intelsat General provided the communications link for the demonstration via its Horizon-1@127°W satellite.
“Our airborne technology has advanced rapidly,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “Our new airborne video solution features speeds five times greater than what is currently available—enabling groundbreaking speed at an affordable cost. We see a significant market for government and military applications of this airborne solution.”
Built on a proven COTS-based platform, this progressive solution developed by a stellar partnership of industry leaders will enhance situational awareness for military and government workforces—and better enable them to complete their missions successfully.
To learn more about the Hughes Airborne Video Solution, please visit defense.hughes.com/resources/airborne-2-minutes.