SmartSky Networks has teamed with radio technology giant Harris to launch the first airborne 4G LTE-based wireless communications network.

The company’s goal is to deliver airborne wireless connectivity equal to that available on the ground at home or in the office.

“In the wireless world, whether on the ground or in the air, speed and capacity are the critical requirements for customer satisfaction,” says SmartSky chairman and chief executive Haynes Griffin. “We recognised that the aviation industry was substantially underserved, and we started work over three years ago on our plan to offer full 4G capability to the aviation market.”

The technology, called SmartSky 4G, promises to provide at least 10 times the typical speed and capacity of existing aviation networks by using 60MHz of spectrum for air-to-ground (ATG) data communication.

SmartSky plans to launch an exclusive beta-customer trial for business aviation and airline customers in the USA in late 2015. A nationwide commercial roll-out is scheduled for 2016.

SmartSky is partnering with a leading group of airframers, maintenance companies, and equipment and service providers to distribute SmartSky 4G to the business aviation community.

Harris was picked for its experience developing radios and communication networks for NASA as well as for military and civil aviation, including managing the FAA’s critical communications infrastructure.

The system hardware can work at multiple frequencies which could allow future expansion into international markets where different frequency bands are required.

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Source: Flight Daily News