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
Sprint Nextel itself has just described its plans for WiMAX services,
which will be marketed under the XOHM (pronounced “zoam”)
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
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