Textron Aviation, Duncan Aviation, Satcom Direct, ICG, and Harris Corporation comprise SmartSky’s distribution backbone for nation’s first airborne 4G LTE wireless network
SmartSky Networks, a next-generation aviation communications provider bringing SmartSky 4G, the first airborne 4G LTE-based wireless network to the market, announced its introductory connectivity partners at the 2014 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in Orlando, Fla. SmartSky 4G will provide more than 10 times the typical speed and capacity of networks currently in the market by accessing 60 MHz of spectrum.
“With the largest ATG spectrum position ever utilized, enabled by a patented 4G LTE-based technology advantage, we’re transitioning the industry from 3G to 4G, much like what has happened on the ground over the last 10 years. In fact, SmartSky 4G will provide Internet capabilities in the air just like what people are accustomed to on the ground, in both the upload and download directions. The only thing that changes is your altitude,” said SmartSky Networks Chairman and CEO, Haynes Griffin.
SmartSky teamed with a number of recognized leaders in the aerospace, technology, and wireless industries to assist with the engineering and supply of key equipment, certification on aircraft, system sales and installation, and provision of subscription service and support. Griffin said, “The overall value SmartSky intends to deliver is enhanced by the unique contributions of our initial connectivity partners, including: Textron Aviation, Duncan Aviation, Satcom Direct, International Communications Group (ICG), and Harris Corporation.”
About Textron Aviation
Textron Aviation Inc. is the leading general aviation authority and home to the iconic Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands, which account for more than half of all general aviation aircraft flying. The Textron Aviation companies include Cessna Aircraft Company and Beechcraft Corporation, bringing together decades of unmatched experience in designing, building and supporting airplanes.
About Duncan Aviation
Duncan Aviation, a leading Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) organization, provided technical support in the design stage and will also certify and install SmartSky 4G on many aircraft models in the aftermarket. “Duncan Aviation has been at the forefront of each wave of new technology and SmartSky sought them out for their expertise. Given Duncan Aviation’s significant pedigree as the market-leading MRO in aftermarket installations of connectivity systems, they have provided instrumental technical input to our product development team and will be a valuable partner when the first systems go through the STC process,” said SmartSky Chief Network Officer, Mike Dodson.
About Satcom Direct
Satcom Direct, the market-leading, value-added reseller of inflight connectivity, will exclusively manage activation, subscription sales, billing, service-support, and technology assistance. “Business aviation customers want the ease and convenience of having one point of contact for their aircraft communication needs, and we’re excited to partner with Satcom Direct given its track record of success with satellite-based aircraft connectivity subscribers,” said SmartSky President, Ryan Stone.
SmartSky approached cabin hardware openly, by setting minimum standards and then allowing partners and others in the industry to innovate into the SmartSky 4G ecosystem. While the system comes with an entry-level cabin router, SmartSky’s channel partners are providing options with enhanced capabilities, like integrating SmartSky 4G with existing or new satellite solutions, if desired. For instance, Satcom Direct is providing SmartSky’s customers with a hardware option, the Satcom Direct Router (SDR), their next-generation aircraft network router which simplifies cabin communications and allows simultaneous use of multiple satellite connections.
ICG, a recognized leader in the development and manufacture of aeronautical communications systems and data routing solutions for business aviation and air transport applications, will provide customers with a wireless access point and routing solution called the eRouter. ICG’s eRouter supports the network by enabling high bandwidth capabilities for both cabin and cockpit applications on multiple networks, including satellites. “Customers who want to use satellite communications alongside SmartSky 4G can do so by choosing ICG’s proven eRouter,” said Stone.
About Harris Corporation
Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS) is an international communications and information technology company with extensive experience in deploying robust, advanced radio technology and networks for the space program, military, and FAA. “Harris brought a lot to the table beyond its aerospace experience, including innovative insights and a broad patent portfolio allowing us to push the envelope of performance,” said Griffin. “For instance, their beamforming technology will help our customers avoid capacity constraints like they have on other networks, especially on congested flight routes. The advanced radios they’re producing for us form the core of the SmartSky 4G value proposition.”
SmartSky 4G will serve both business aviation and commercial airlines beginning with an exclusive beta-customer trial launch in the continental U.S. in late 2015, with the goal of nationwide launch in 2016.
About SmartSky Networks
SmartSky Networks, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., was formed in 2011 and is comprised of senior aviation and telecommunications executives seeking to leverage disruptive communications technologies to transform aviation. In conjunction with leading aerospace and technology partners, SmartSky plans to beta-launch its innovative Air-To-Ground network, SmartSky 4G, in late 2015 followed by the rollout of nationwide commercial service in 2016. More information can be found at www.smartskynetworks.com.
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