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Rockwell mulls offering eXchange to commercial market

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.

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