London-based aeronautical satellite operator Inmarsat yesterday logged the first paying traffic over its newly introduced SwiftBroadband system.

SwiftBroadband airborne equipment of the kind just ordered from Rockwell Collins by Qatar Airways can support two 432kbit/sec channels that can be bonded and accelerated to produce an effective throughput exceeding 1Mbit/sec. Applications for the IP-based service include email, Internet and VPN access, high-quality voice communications and teleconferencing.

And Emirates is due before the end of the year to roll out a passenger onboard cellphone service capable of using SwiftBroadband for the air-to-ground link. As well as voice calls, the Emirates service will provide text messaging and email via BlackBerries and other wireless PDAs.

“Passengers can now make the most of innovations such as regular news updates from their in-seat screens and personal mobile devices,” says Lars Ringertz, Inmarsat head of aeronautical marketing. “And the ‘always-on’ connectivity of SwiftBroadband allows the crew to operate the aircraft more efficiently.”

Most of the new long-haul aircraft being built by Boeing and Airbus, including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 - are fitted with antennas capable of accessing SwiftBroadband. Existing users of Inmarsat’s aeronautical services with a suitable high-gain antenna already installed can follow a simple upgrade path to SwiftBroadband.

Leading manufacturers - Chelton, EMS, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Thales, and Thrane & Thrane - are bringing to market SwiftBroadband-capable avionics and antennas. The service is available through distribution partners MVS, OnAir, Stratos and Vizada, and their extensive reseller network.

SwiftBroadband is now available across the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. It will be accessible worldwide except for the extreme polar regions following the planned launch of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite next year.

Source: Flight Daily News