Rockwell mulls offering eXchange to commercial market

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Rockwell Collins is studying the possibility of offering its eXchange connectivity package to the commercial air transport industry.

The firm is not new to the in-flight connectivity market. Partner Arinc Direct offers a Ku-band service for business jets called SKYLink, which provides broadband links to aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins' eXchange product line.

"There is interest in the air transport sector for Ku-band connectivity. Obviously, we have eXchange for business jets, but technically it should be possible to offer eXchange to air transport. It's about building a business case," says Terrence Santel, Rockwell Collins' airborne connectivity marketing manager, information management, commercial systems.

Santel recently visited an airline "in a part of the world where Ku-band connectivity [offerability] isn't even close" due to lack of satellite coverage. Nonetheless, he says he fielded "more questions on Ku-band than anything else".

The Rockwell Collins executive points out that the eXchange technology "will work anywhere in the world but if you don't have a satellite to provide the service" the proposition is moot until that situation changes.

The eXchange offering, coupled with SKYLink, is a real time, two-way connectivity system providing true broadband speeds of up to 3.5Mbps to aircraft. Santel notes that Rockwell Collins is "not a service provider", rather it supplies equipment to support Ku-band connectivity.

Asked if Rockwell Collins is interested in becoming a connectivity service provider, Santel declined comment.