ThinKom Solutions, Inc., recently completed a series of interoperability tests that demonstrated the compatibility of its core antenna technology with a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network.
The tests took place during the first quarter of 2020, using commercially available airborne-certified hardware, including a ThinKom Ku3030 phased-array antenna subsystem and a Gogo radome, adaptor plate and power amplifier that together comprise the “2Ku” aero satcom terminal.
The 2Ku terminal demonstrated rapid acquisition and tracking of LEO satellites and provided continuous connectivity over all operationally relevant elevation angles. The switch time between individual satellite beams was less than 100 milliseconds (ms), and handoffs between satellites were completed in less than one second. Switches between LEO and geostationary (GEO) satellites were also achieved with similar results.
The measured terminal performance demonstrated the potential that the combination of ThinKom antennas and LEO solutions will provide, with throughput rates in excess of 350 Mbps on the downlink and 125 Mbps on the uplink, at latencies of less than 50 ms.
“LEO satellite networks have the potential to be transformative to the in-flight connectivity experience, but also place new stringent demands on the antenna systems used to track and connect with the rapidly moving satellites,” said Bill Milroy, CTO of ThinKom Solutions. “This important demonstration is another milestone verifying that our antenna technology operates effectively in the LEO environment, which is a key requirement for airlines in terms of enhanced network resiliency and flexibility.”
ThinKom has successfully tested its Ku- and Ka-band COTS phased-array aero antennas across commercial and military frequency bands and a wide range of GEO and non-geostationary (NGSO) satellites over the past 12 months. In all cases, the phased-array antennas have consistently demonstrated high throughput operation and rapid reliable handoffs, including both intra- and inter-satellite switching.