ICG Rolls Out NxtMail Server For Bizjets!

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The International Communications Group, Newport News, VA has just announced the FAA has granted Parts Manufacturing Authority supported by a Gulfstream Aerospace for their latest connectivity device for bizjets – NxtMail Server. Working in conjunction with ICG Iridium hardware today, NextMail is designed for data applications on Challenger and Gulfstream planes (just to mention 2) and delivers a low cost solution for onboard email and web surfing (with limitations) via Smartphones, laptops, iPhones, PDA’s, and Wi-Fi equipped Blackberrys. The unit has the capability to dynamically assign and deliver information to up to 10 users and really fits in applications where the aircraft already have Iridium onboard – like business jets. As some commercial aircraft use Iridium for voice and data, there is obviously a future application there as well. At 2400 KBPS, the unit is ideally suited for Wi-Fi based email, but web surfing is possible, albeit at low speeds.

We liked this part of their news release too, “ICG’s NxtMail Server over Iridium can operate concurrently with other on-board data services such as Airshow updates and Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs), as well. WiFi capable mobile digital devices are automatically assigned an Internet Provider (IP) address by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server to provide immediate access to the system without user intervention or set-up beyond what is traditionally required for any conventional Wi-Fi networks. The NxtMail Server provides global E-Mail service through either an inexpensive ICG ICS Iridium system or via any Inmarsat Broadband terminal.”

As suspected, the ICG Router/WAP could handle the data bandwidth requirements (with modifications) and work eventually with other service providers like Row44 and AirCell. However, there are many Iridium equipped bizjets and the unit can serve to route ACARS data thru the plane via the Iridium network as well as serving up wireless connections for low speed data (get the picture)? We should mention that the unit is seeing some commercial airline testing with Delta for ACARS and crew connectivity applications.
A little Q & A with ICG gave the following results:

Q: What about the name, NxtMail Server… isn’t it more of a router?

A: Actually, the server name is slightly misleading. The unit does not have any storage capability but is more than a simple router/WAP and hence the server nomenclature. The value add for the nxtMail is the ability to control the satellite link(s) and thus control costs.

Q: Did you say it does interface with Inmarsat… what speed if so… 425KBPs?

A: Yes the system is capable of operating with both Iridium and INMARSAT and has appropriate logic to switch medium types as necessary. Which medium to select first is configurable. Actual speed varies with INMARSAT terminal, link conditions, and service selected.

Q: What about Thurya at 9600 KBPS?

A: Not supported at this time. We are looking into Thurya’s IP network as it should work quite nicely with NxtMail Server.

Q: Should we assume 2400 KBPS for Iridium as data thruput?

A: Yes, but 2400 BPS this is the minimum throughput using Iridium, with data compression and the nature of email actual throughput may be more. The delay contributed to Iridium versus running in a terrestrial 3G network is negligible.

Check out the links on the data sheet for more info or contact Sandy Hickey, ICG Marketing Manager, at ICG HQ – shickey@icg.aero via email.

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