SmartSky Starts Deploying 4G LTE Air-to-Ground Network

SmartSky

Aviation communications provider SmartSky Networks has started deployment of the airborne 4G LTE-based air-to-ground (ATG) network. Using 60 MHz of spectrum and beamforming technology, SmartSky’s network plans to provide more than 10 times the typical speed and capacity of the current industry standard ATG network, and at a lower cost per bit.

The company’s recently announced $170M Series B funding round jump-started the long lead-time implementation processes for roll-out of the U.S. network.Company has completed installations of new and highly advanced technologies that provide for secure, very low latency, virtualized evolved packet core (EPC) operations. In addition, 86% of the selected base station sites nationwide have already passed initial on-site viability testing and are now in permitting and backhaul-connection phases. Final ground infrastructure is being installed and commissioned upon completion of local permitting; Production activities for radios, antennas and ancillary equipment for both ground stations and aircraft are underway.

According to SmartSky, Supplemental Type Certification (STC) is under development and on track to be submitted to the FAA in the near term, with software for the airborne systems now being flight tested. FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) and STCs for over 40 popular business aircraft models will follow the FAA’s approval of the STC, based on commitments from leading MROs and OEMs;

The company’s estimate for completing coverage to support the network’s nationwide service launch has been updated to mid-2018, reflecting additional time being required for STC-related software optimization and production of base station radios.

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