Los Angeles and Germantown, MD | March 21, 2016– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., (Nasdaq:ENT) (GEE), a worldwide provider of aircraft connectivity systems, operations solutions and media content to the travel industry, and Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes), the global leader in broadband satellite solutions and services, today announced an agreement under which Hughes will deliver satellite connectivity for GEE’s next-generation, multi-band airborne services utilizing the high-throughput Ka-band EchoStar XIX satellite, planned for launch in late 2016, to meet the ever-growing demand for higher performance in-flight connectivity over North America.

In conjunction with the deployment of Hughes’ JUPITER™ System aeronautical modem, capable of over 200 Mbps of throughput per aircraft, GEE’s newest addition to its aeronautical broadband connectivity services will enable passengers to realize the full spectrum of application support and performance they enjoy on the ground.

Today’s announcement expands a successful 10-year relationship between GEE and Hughes that has a proven record of innovation and commercialization in aeronautical broadband networking technology and services. The expanded partnership further enhances GEE’s position as a leader in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFE&C) market, with best-of-breed offerings in the Ku, Ku-HTS, and Ka bands.

“With the rapid growth in demand for aeronautical broadband capacity and the commensurate expectations for increasing performance, we are extremely pleased to add the capacity and capability of Hughes’ EchoStar XIX satellite to our array of resources,” said Dave Davis, chief executive officer of GEE. “In combination with Hughes’ JUPITER System technology, which enables extremely high throughput to aircraft and supports operation in both Ku- and Ka-Band satellite frequencies, this agreement enables GEE to deliver the highest capacity and most reliable performance that our clients need and expect well into the future.”

“Hughes is pleased to expand our long-standing relationship with GEE with high-performance Ka-band capacity on our EchoStar XIX satellite,” said Paul Gaske, executive vice president and general manager, North America Division at Hughes. “When launched, EchoStar XIX will be the highest-capacity satellite serving North America and, in conjunction with our JUPITER System technology, will enable GEE to readily accommodate the tremendous growth in aeronautical broadband traffic that is taking place in the industry.”

The Hughes JUPITER System is the cornerstone technology of the market-leading HughesNet® Gen 4 satellite Internet service—with over 1 million active users—which was recently ranked first among all major Internet service providers in the U.S. (both terrestrial and satellite) for consistently delivering promised download and upload speeds, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) fifth annual report on consumer broadband services, “Measuring Broadband America – 2015.”

APEX Expo, Portland, Oregon | September 29, 2015– Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ RAVE™ technology has now been installed on 300 aircraft.

“It is only just over a year ago since we celebrated our 100th installation so this news shows how rapidly we’re progressing,” said Matt Smith, CEO of Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “This is a very important milestone both for Zodiac Inflight Innovations and for the airline industry as a whole. The IFEC world has been dominated by two suppliers for too long, resulting in airlines not having the choice they deserve and limiting passengers’ access to the very best technology.”

RAVE™ has four elements, RAVE™ Centric, RAVE™ Wireless, RAVE™ Cellular and RAVE™ Broadband, which together make up the entire IFEC offering that any airline needs. It is modular, so each airline can select the elements that suit it best and airlines can even provide different elements for economy and premium cabins. All the products are available in one integrated package or as standalone products. Whatever the airline wants from its IFEC, Zodiac Inflight Innovations has a flexible solution to meet its needs.

“Everything Zodiac Inflight Innovations does is based around the principles of RAVE™: the technology is reliable, affordable and very easy,” continued Smith. “The RAVE concept applies as much to simplicity of use for the passenger as it does to the airline’s purchasing, marketing and maintenance teams.”

RAVE™ Centric IFE is the very best in-seat IFE.

RAVE™ Wireless uses wireless access points (WAP) to create an onboard wireless network for the distribution of films, TV, music and moving maps to passengers’ own PEDs, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

RAVE™ Cellular is Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ inflight mobile phone product.

RAVE™ Broadband is inflight Wi-Fi and connectivity off the aircraft.

  • Lightweight connectivity solution offers passengers access to instant messaging applications

APEX EXPO, Anaheim, CA | September 16, 2014– Inflight entertainment solutions brand, roKKi and the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L) have together launched the first low-cost inflight connectivity service in the Asia Pacific region.

The roKKi connectivity service offers passengers a revolutionary communication experience that allows them to enjoy access to instant messaging applications on their personal mobile device while flying 35,000 feet above sea level. This meets passengers’ need to maintain close contact with friends and family while offering airlines the opportunity to generate ancillary revenue by employing quality technology at lower costs.

Powering roKKi’s connectivity service is Inmarsat’s L-band satellite service, SwiftBroadband. Inmarsat provides consistent coverage on routes across the world supported by a powerful ground network.

Using a Cobham four-channel satellite communication system that aggregates up to four times 332kbps that totals up to 1.3mbps of throughput, roKKi has successfully developed a low-cost, lightweight system that offers a smooth instant messaging experience similar to that of on ground.

“As the first service provider to launch a four-channel system on a commercial airline, we’re running the fastest Inmarsat SwiftBroadband service available in the industry today,” said Sami El Hadery, roKKi’s executive director. “Our connectivity service is lightweight yet robust. It has the capacity to support multiple concurrent users, as proven in our successful user acceptance test that had 120 passengers using the system.”

roKKi’s connectivity service is currently being deployed on AirAsia aircraft. AirAsia is the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia that services an extensive network of 88 destinations.

“This relationship shows the breadth of Inmarsat’s portfolio,” said Leo Mondale, President Aviation, Inmarsat. “SwiftBroadband is the perfect connectivity support for the roKKi solution.”

As part of a continuous effort to provide innovative communication solutions on board, roKKi will expand its connectivity service to provide access to emails and social media that’s set to roll out in phases in 2015.

Let me start this piece by relating a flight experience I had recently. During the four hour trip from Seattle to Chicago, I had no Internet on the outbound leg of the journey; however, I had the luxury of Gogo wireless Internet on the return. I say luxury because the return leg was free and if I had paid for the experience, it would have only cost $13, the same price as the abysmal “Fruit & Cheese” plate I purchased to compensate for the free Internet. Further let me add, that the ability to get my email and do a bit of surfing on the ‘return’ leg was so much better than I ever anticipated. In fact, with Internet and email access the Chicago to Seattle flight felt like it took half the time of the outbound leg… and, believe me, that had nothing to do with the fruit and cheese plate! The message here is, we spend so much time on the ground with our Internet/communication fetish, when we have it in the air one doesn’t spend as much time wondering, “Are we there yet?!” (Note: Setup can be a bit fussy as the data entry in the beginning of the sign-on was necessary so the next time we will get the App before the flight.)

So much for the sales pitch, but here’s the message: If you seldom travel, buy your inflight Internet from Gogo or whomever, because it makes the time fly. And for under $20 for the connection, or whatever it costs for the privilege, it’s a bargain. If you want 1 hour on Gogo, it’s $5, one day is $8 ($16 if you fly on the different airlines), and I believe for around $60 one can get a month’s worth of the experience ($50 if you only select one airline). Thus, it is a must for frequent fliers… a must!

The issue at hand in this IFExpress is the future of Gogo, more specifically, the future of the speed (or bandwidth) of Gogo, and there are at least two reasons for writing about it: 1) As flights get more filled with Internet traffickers, the fixed aircraft data Internet speeds will inevitably result in congestion, slowing the experience. That’s simple electromagnetics, and 2) Recent announcements by AT&T, who plans to bring some version of LTE to the air, may also bring a lot of competition to Gogo in the USA. Prices may drop (especially if AT&T uses their 4G LTE solution) but, don’t expect Gogo to be asleep at the switch. From a price perspective, most probably, their prices will drop as competition builds up. When prices drop, there will be more users, and so on… time will tell. Internationally, there are competitors like Row 44, Panasonic, Thales, Inmarsat derivatives, etc., and we should not forget their impact on competitive connectivity.

Today, Gogo customers include: Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, United, US Airways, and Virgin America for a total of over 2,000 US aircraft. Gogo’s Text & Talk application will serve as an extension of a GSM or CDMA cellular network, without the need to install picocells on planes. In the US, it presently is only a text feature, but lest we forget, in the early 90’s, we could talk on a plane… today’s seating jumble will probably prevent that feature unless an airline’s business or first class finds it more appealing. The aforementioned features enable any smart phone user to roam onto Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi system as if they were roaming onto a land-based cellular network where they can continue to access their messaging and phone services anywhere a Gogo equipped aircraft flies.

From a historical perspective, the technology and the market have grown and will continue to as far as we can see. Boeing’s Current Market Outlook claims that there are some 20,310 Regional, Medium and Large jets in the worldwide fleet so this means that there is plenty of room to grow connectivity applications. What’s interesting is the single aisle airplane demand and if the connectivity folks figure out a business model for the next 20 years, they will be looking at some 34,000 airplanes… and in 20 years, a lot can happen in this industry. Because of the size of most smaller jet aircraft (100 seats or less) big satcom antennas for improved data rates are a physical challenge for on-top installation – next week we will show a potential solution for that crowd as well!

At a recent Gogo press event (the driver of this work), the company laid out the technology plans for the next few years. It included a big push into international growth and a very technical plan for the technology that will drive their improved coverage and data performance. One of the key issues is the antenna developments that are coming along. We should note that the image used in this week’s issue of IFExpress, is the installation of the ATG antenna on the underside of a customer jet. Because the Air-To-Ground system in the USA beams signals below the plane, the antenna is obviously placed there. The satcom solutions will require antennas (beams and plates) on the top of the plane. We should point out that at this time, Gogo does not manufacture most of the boxes and antennas found on their equipped aircraft – they sub them out to companies who specialize in that business. To that end, Gogo should be considered a system service provider as they spec and assemble the hardware needed for each task. Additionally, the engineering team that we met were top notch people. They answered every question we asked and really seemed intent on providing airlines and travelers with the best solution. Since we are talking about antennas, here is a teaser of next week’s discussion of the Gogo solution for speed and coverage upgrades: ATG, ATG-4, Ku-band, 2Ku, Ka-band (GXA), and GTO (Ground-To -Orbit). Stay Tuned!

Editors Notes:
One of the important players in Gogo’s past was Jack Blumenstein who passed away in 2012. You can read more about his impact on the industry.

The Gogo website is one of the best we haves seen for information about their services – you might check out the following features:

If you are interested in an infographic that depicts some of the important Gogo info from the last 5 years, check it out.

TIP: Check out concourse.gogoair.com for some of the more interesting aspects of their business not to mention the history of Gogo. It’s worth a look!

  • Companies also announce long-term contract for maintenance, and support of IFEC Systems

Lake Forest, CA | February 25, 2014– Singapore Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) to explore opportunities to leverage Panasonic’s Global Communications Services to change the way it conducts business.

Panasonic’s global connectivity service offers higher bandwidth for a lower cost per bit than previous solutions using VHF or L-band services, and as a result, offers new opportunities to further improve airline operations and reduce expenses.

With the signing of the MOU, the two companies will look to use Panasonic’s Global Communications Services to streamline operations across key areas including:

  • Tie broadband-equipped aircraft into the airline operations network to improve aircraft location monitoring and view aircraft speed, altitude and other performance parameters in real time
  • Deliver real-time aircraft health monitoring, engine data transmission, critical systems monitoring, and detection and communication of issues prior to arrival
  • Increase cabin crew and flight deck efficiency with live customer relations management, electronic flight bag, operations and maintenance air to ground communications, and real-time information about icing, turbulence and other critical weather updates
  • Enhance the passenger experience with greater levels of personalization, more robust infotainment.

Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics Corporation said, “Connectivity has the potential to change the airline industry in the same way the internet changed the way business is done everywhere on the ground.  We salute Singapore Airlines for recognizing the enormous value a truly connected aircraft can bring to their operations.”

Panasonic and Singapore Airlines also announced a long term Power By The Hour Maintenance Contract covering the maintenance, repair and support of Panasonic IFE equipment through 2024.  The Singapore based Panasonic and SIAEC Joint Venture, Panasonic Avionics Corporation Services Singapore (PACSS) will play a central role in the execution of this agreement.    The contract further enhances ties between the two industry leaders.

Seattle, Washington hosted this year’s IFE and content extravaganza and if you didn’t attend we hope to paint a summary picture for our readers in this edition and the next as well. Furthermore, we will cover many of the bigger stories in detail in the forthcoming months. Watch for show pictures on our website via Flickr. Lastly, we want to thank APEX and their management team for a great expo. Boeing, Panasonic, & Astronics for wonderful evening entertainment, and finally, all the vendors who pay for the show. You rock!

Speaking of trends, here are a few we noticed: Open Platform Apps, Ka Band Buzz, Connectivity – to satellites and the ground, Distributed cabin Wi-Fi to multiple platforms (iOS, Android and Windows), and Seat-Centric style Entertainment.

We wanted to highlight offerings and new developments from suppliers who invited us to drop by and check out their wares. This is the first of the two summary articles in no particular order:

KID-Systeme is back with a new logo and the next iteration of their seat power box installed in the Recaro economy seat bar. The module contains no fans and airline interest has recharged the system as it provided seat 25 watts for each seat and 150 watts of 110 AC power for portable devices. Rumor has it that they are looking at a big order approaching 100 A/C.

Rockwell Collins announced their dPaves 3 IFE system destined for single aisle (and twins too) as an inseat video system. Truly seat oriented, dPaves 3 is an upgrade path from previous editions and features solid state memory.

Lufthansa Systems and Virgin America rolled out their single aisle IFE system that features inseat screens/hardware (for Early Window and networked entertainment and TV) and Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11n) to passenger devices via an app. The device features 128GB SSD for content storage and is expected to grow.

Carlisle showed their newest fiber optic connector dubbed OCTAX for Ethernet and HD video. About the size of your little finger, OCTAX is a quad channel, round F.O. connector that sports a release pin and can deliver 10 gigabits per second, or higher. The Carlisle crew says it will have a home in data loaders, seat-to-seat connections and in IFE backbone deliveries.

Here’s a new name, Kontron, and we expect to hear a lot more from them. They acquired AP Avionics (Remember their modems and WAPS?) and we found out they are the hardware manufacturer for Lufthansa Systems new IFE product, Board Connect. Kontron is a German company with sales worldwide and are the builders of industrial computer and imbedded systems. This is an OEM to watch.

We were knocked out by the new AIRVOD IFE system. Chosen for 2 Omni Air B-777 aircraft, the system is equipped with a beautiful touchscreen and driven driven by a “lossy line” backbone with “seatcentric” architecture. Did we mention the Terrance Bonar had registered “seatcentric” as a trademarked term years back? When we asked about legal protection, Terrance quipped: “Why, other users of the term are advertising for AIRVOD.” Hmmmm! We should also mention that the Avianor seats used to demonstrate the hardware were beautiful and, surprisingly, they were refurbs. There were too many features of this system to mention here but we will follow up later.

Thales showed some beautiful IFE hardware that we will cover in a later article. The displayed a terrific Bucher inseat video arm used in the Thales Integrated Front Row IFE system that can accommodate a video display up to 12.1 in. Dave Pook took IFExpress thru their moving map display program and demonstrated integration with GeoRadio, the audio entertainment software that “tells” viewers about the points of interest below, triggered by GPS data. Of interesting note was Boeing’s cancellation of a live demonstration of the Thales GateSync product. This is a valuable development for aircraft data handling and we are hoping for an eventual update to report to out readers.

The TriaGnoSys team rolled out their connectivity development (in conjunction with Siemens) called IFEConneX. You will hear more about this one box wonder from us but it delivers media content and inflight connectivity to passengers during flights via a ‘leaky line’ technology and looks ideal for non-IFE equipped planes like business jets. By incorporating both connectivity and entertainment in one box.

The IMS RAVE and EDGE products were smart and worked like a UI should. We liked the commonality across their product line and how simple and effective the swipe technology is for IFE. By the way, the Samsung Galaxy tablet product for American Airlines looked great.

As an aside, John White asked us to mention that the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle is construction a new $300 million dollar building at their South Seattle location and have verbally committed to an IFE wing. It seems the museum brass was really impressed with the industry offer of legacy and historic IFE hardware for their museum (The Smithsonian was not!). If you or company wants to donate your historical IFE artifacts please contact John.

Bryan Rusenko is now VP IFE Technology & Strategy, Technicolor and they have an interesting automated content service – more later.
Al McGowen is back in the Goodrich commercial world as Director, Business Development. We wonder if the United Technologies acquisition is a driver?
Patrick Joly of DTI fame is now with Spafax as Director Digital Platforms. When he explained the digital platform convergence that is changing the inflight information content paradigm, we got it. Have him explain it to you – it’s the next thing in IFE communication.
Darrel Chua turned up as President of his game development company Enveesoft. His team in China has some very interesting games in development.
Tracy DeCuir is back in the IFE space (as if he ever left).
Colin Mahoney, New VP Sales, Marketing, and Support, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems was on hand (He is the new Randy Lincoln). IFExpress should also note that the new IFE PR contact is Josh Baynes.
Good News! World renown bon vivant Andre De Greef is back with LiveTV.

Special recognition from IFExpress goes to Inflight Canada for their espresso stand and rest area. Why special? It seems George Smallhorn and the team was forced to remain in Canada for business reasons and could not attend. Rather than simply give up their booth space, they hired a barista, brought in some comfortable furniture and turned their booth into a rest stop for the weary. Nice touch!

Thousand Oaks, CA (March 23, 2010) – TECOM Industries, Inc. today announced that its customer, Row 44 (Westlake Village, CA), a provider of airborne broadband connectivity, will install TECOM Industries’ KuStream™ 1000 antenna system on Southwest Airlines’ commercial fleet. In January 2010, Southwest Airlines announced plans to equip more than 500 aircraft with Row 44’s In-flight Broadband Connectivity System.

The KuStream 1000 antenna system enables the Row 44 In-flight Broadband Connectivity System to provide passengers with live entertainment and communication, including high data rate applications such as full Internet access, VoIP services, cell phone roaming (via pico-cells in markets with appropriate regulation) and live television using IPTV. The KuStream 1000 is a joint development effort of TECOM Industries and QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH of Germany. QEST contributed core RF components such as the antenna aperture and the polarization control module, with TECOM contributing systems engineering, antenna positioning and control subsystems, product qualification, certification and after-sale support.

Arsen Melconian, President of TECOM, said: “This selection by Row 44 validates our technical approach and is an acknowledgement of the hard work accomplished by the development team, our partner QEST, and all the major vendors. I am extremely pleased about this installation and this is a major event for TECOM.”

“After careful evaluation, Row 44 selected the TECOM KuStream antenna system,” said John Guidon, CEO of Row 44. “We are pleased to have them as our supplier for the Southwest Airlines program.”

The KuStream 1000 has received FCC licensing for airborne transmit and receive. TECOM has completed the requirements for environmental qualification of the KuStream 1000 and has applied for FAA Parts Manufacture Approval.