Press Release
Press Release

Wi-sky tests WiMAX on Business Jets
Wi-sky tests WiMAX on Business Jets
North Carolina - August 20, 2007

North Carolina-based broadband aspirant Wi-SKY Networks says it has successfully tested its air-to-ground WiMAX technology at speeds typical of jet airliner operations.

Last year the company announced that it had achieved a continuous WiMAX-based 3Mbit/sec connection between a ground base station and a helicopter.
According to Wi-SKY, the link supported simultaneous videoconferences, VoIP phone calls and data downloads at distances of 30 miles from the base station, altitudes of over 10,000ft and aircraft speeds of up to 126kt.

Last weekend Wi-SKY chief executive Grant Sharp reported by email that the system was working aboard a jet aircraft flying over California inland from San Francisco Bay. Attached to the emails were screen shots showing the flightpath depicted by Microsoft MapPoint GPS, a live MSNBC Web page with topical news content (Hurricane Dean and the early conclusion of the current Shuttle mission), the data throughput (1.1Mbit/sec up and down, verified by the Speakeasy Internet-based system), and the speed and altitude of the aircraft (538mph at 31,100ft).

Commenting on the throughput performance, Sharp said: “This was achieved with an old-version base station, with the antenna held up manually in the window of the aircraft. We’re confident our equipment will be enhanced in the next few months and will be able to better these rates significantly.”

The aircraft flew a circular route at a radius of 24 miles from the single base station currently operational.
“The circle gave us maximum time on the Internet to perform functions such as email, including a broadcast to 150 interested parties, speed tests, browsing, music downloads, Skype calls and a few diagnostics,” said Sharp. The company plans to carry out further test flights, aiming to demonstrate greater range and higher data throughput rates.

In the longer term Wi-SKY sees itself competing in the North American broadband market with the likes of AirCell, AeroMobile and OnAir, offering lighter, cheaper and simpler aircraft equipment while matching or exceeding their data rates.

At last year’s WAEA show in Miami Beach Wi-SKY president Donald Alcorn told Inflight Online:
“We envisage a mesh network of WiMAX towers covering all the major US air routes, combined with aircraft-to-aircraft links based on one of a number of other possible technologies. This would be able to support a true passenger broadband service offering 1Mbit/sec to each simultaneous user, as well as providing a link to the aircraft operating at up to 60Mbit/sec for applications such as IFE content uploads.”

Aviation users would bear only a fraction of the cost of establishing the network, he explained.
“We propose to add upward-looking antennas to the base stations being planned by Clearwire and Sprint Nextel, which have announced plans to set up nationwide horizontal WiMAX networks.” Clearwire is a joint venture by Intel, Motorola and serial telecoms entrepreneur Craig McCaw.

Sprint Nextel itself has just described its plans for WiMAX services, which will be marketed under the XOHM (pronounced “zoam”) brand.
A soft launch in the Chicago and Baltimore/Washington markets is due by the end of the year, and full commercial service is expected to be available from the first half of next year.

Since announcing its initial plans a year ago the company has greatly expanded its ecosystem of device, chip and other partners and has selected Google to bring WiMAX mobile Internet customers search, interactive communications and social networking tools through a new mobile portal.

Under a sharing agreement with Clearwire that was announced last month Sprint Nextel expects the network to reach 100 million people in North America by the end of 2008, with Sprint serving 70 million and Clearwire 30 million. Coverage is expected to grow to about 125 million people by the end of 2010, embracing an estimated 48 million US households, nearly five million small office/home office subscribers, and more than 130 million consumer electronic devices.

Sprint Nextel expects to invest about $2.5 billion in WiMAX between now and the end of next year,
with a further $2.5 billion needed to reach the coverage target of 125 million people.
It foresees positive cash flow from the programme starting in 2011.