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Global Eagle and Telesat Complete Network Simulation Milestone for LEO IFC Antenna

By Woodrow Bellamy | May 17, 2021

A rendering of Telesat’s Lightspeed constellation. Photo: Telesat/Thales Alenia Space

Engineers at California-based Global Eagle Entertainment recently completed network simulations evaluating the efficiency of their In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) terminal’s ability to operate over Telesat’s Lightspeed Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) network.

According to a May 10 press release, Telesat used the network simulations to determine how Global Eagle’s Airconnect antenna could support in-flight applications like online gaming and cloud-hosted applications. The two companies have been working toward delivering aircraft connectivity from Telesat’s 300-satellite LEO network — which is on track to be ready for service by the end of 2023 — since first establishing a partnership in 2018.

Testing in multi-orbit configurations reportedly achieved round-trip latency of 19 milliseconds (ms), compared to “traditional Geostationary (GEO) satellite networks which experience over 600 ms of latency,” according to Global Eagle.

“Achieving this critical milestone lays the foundation for the eventual certification of our Airconnect Ka solution on the Telesat Lightspeed constellation,” Mike Pigott, vice president of Connectivity for Global Eagle said in the release. “Since 2018, our partnership with Telesat has demonstrated the smooth transition from existing GEO satellite networks to LEO satellites inflight. We now have the confidence to begin installations this year.”

Global Eagle currently uses the Airconnect antenna on Telesat’s existing GEO satellite network. The latest progress on the Global Eagle-Telesat aircraft LEO connectivity partnership comes less than a year after Global Eagle filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Telesat is one of the uniquely positioned global operators of satellites that has primarily been involved in providing IFC service through backhaul agreements with aviation service providers who make equipment and service available to operators. Their aviation service provider partnership list includes Global Eagle, Gogo, and Panasonic Avionics.

“With Global Eagle’s Ka terminal evolution, airlines can be confident that they are future-proofing their connectivity decisions today,” Telesat’s Erwin Hudson, vice president, LEO, said in a statement. “Collaborating with future-focused companies like Global Eagle will enable us to achieve our goal of transforming In-Flight Connectivity with the Telesat Lightspeed network.”

This article was first published by our sister publication Aviation Today.