Satcom1 joins the battle for in-flight PDA shares

 - May 18, 2008, 12:15 AM

The race is on for market share in a communication system that will allow the in-flight use of personal cellphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as the BlackBerry. Denmark’s Satcom1 considers itself very much among the front-runners in this contest. The company recently revealed details of its system based on Inmarsat’s Swift64 and SwiftBroadband satcom and developed as part of Satcom1’s AvioIP portfolio of communication services.

The AvioIP has already been installed in a Boeing Business Jet and on executive/VIP versions of the Airbus A330 and Airbus A340, according to Satcom1 technical manager Jean-Francois Gault. Satcom1 is also in discussions with Dassault Falcon Jet to make the system available on the French aircraft manufacturer’s line of business jets. An agreement is expected by year-end.

Satcom1 is also talking with a number of independent completion and refurbishment centers, including Swiss giant Jet Aviation.

According to Gault, there are two complementary solutions based on a wireless local area network. One will provide the user with the latest BlackBerry Curve PDA and a SIM card. It will allow communication via Wi-Fi with the Inmarsat Aero terminal. The second solution allows the user to keep his or her own SIM card for installation in a mobile phone or PDA selected from a list of compatible devices. Satcom1 claims either process is “completely transparent” to anyone calling the user from the ground.

NAT Seattle’s JetLAN AR250 server/wireless router is required and will support several communication devices simultaneously. An alternative is an Inmarsat Aero H+, Swift64 or SwiftBroadband installation. JetLAN has been successfully tested on a Boeing Business Jet.

Here at EBACE, Satcom1 (Booth No. 915) is performing live demonstrations of its AR250 AvioIP package.