Media and technology holding company Voyant has identified at least 100MHz of unlicensed spectrum in all the regions where it hopes to offer air-to-ground (ATG) connectivity to airlines.
That includes Europe, which abandoned one of the primary concepts for airborne voice telephony – the terrestrial flight telecommunications system (TFTS) – about a decade ago after it proved hugely disappointing. Remember Jetphone’s demise?
“We are aware of the challenges that was TFTS in Europe. From the war stories, I’m hearing it was extremely difficult. We are not doing that. We’ve learned their lesson. We found unlicensed bandwidth,” said Voyant chief marketing officer Steffan Koehler in an interview following our first discussion.
Unlike ATG architectures that rely on licensed spectrum – such as Aircell’s US offering – Voyant intends to use unlicensed spectrum to support in-flight broadband.
“There are specific parts of the spectrum that do not require licenses. However, if you are going to use spectrum that you don’t own, but it’s in a band approved for ATG use – that usually comes with a whole bunch of rules and conditions. That’s why people don’t do it that often. Our expertise is in meeting those rules and conditions,” says Koehler.
On transoceanic flights, Voyant could partner with a satellite-based connectivity provider to offer a seamless service, but Koehler admits: “That’s not where our focus is right now.”
“We’d love to be doing everything at once. We’d love to also offer Ku-band service over the ocean but we have to stick to one thing and build that business first.”