Back in June, we brought you some early results and information on Ron Chapman’s Bluetooth initiative to use lower power Bluetooth capability for inflight connectivity. Today, they are closer to the messaging solution and we thought our readers might like to see where Ron’s Bizjet/commercial aircraft system is heading. If you remember, the ASIQ System (now called BizjetMobile) basically sits between aircraft Satellite units (SDU) and passengers who use their Smartphones to communicate email, SMS, or voice on the plane. 

The system utilizes a laptop/tablet server (UMPC) and “talks” to the SDU in one of two ways. Ron noted the hardware setup to IFExpress:  “One way, via USB or Ethernet to the Iridium/Thuraya/Inmarsat Data port; or Two, via USB to our custom built voice modem which controls the SATCOM Voice Channel. This is the small box we call the voice interface.” (Editors Note: To expand the thought a bit further, the system for a Bizjet has 2 connections from the UMPC to the SDU. One for data, using either USB or Ethernet depending on which SATCOM units are installed and one for voice using either POTS or the analog speaker/mic input. Airline units will only have one data connection). All SATCOMS have this interface. In most cases we just take over one handset port.  Please note, we do not use VOIP, it is PCM at work here.” 

As we noted before, their Bluetooth-based system will begin operation on Bizjets, however here’s what Ron said about coming commercial aircraft applications, “The airline version will be data only SMS, Text email, plus a Twitter and Facebook messaging interface, that should raise some eyebrows in the industry! Moreover, what it will do, is for the first time ever, drop the price of messaging in an aircraft and it will be the same as if you were on your mobile phone at home.” We note, there is another surprise but we can’t talk about it yet – you might want to read the forthcoming third part of the trilogy! Here are a few FAQ’s that ASIQ sent in response to airlines and bizjet operators who have been deluging them with questions.

Lastly, we encourage our readers to watch this development because it just may bring low cost, satcom-based connectivity to planes equipped with slower data-rate satellite hardware, especially in places over water. Moreover, at lower price points, mobile data users are more likely to use SMS, Twitter, and Facebook for their connectivity. Wait till Part 3 – Stay Tuned!