Satcom maker unveils 4-channel Swift64 unit

 - December 18, 2007, 7:49 AM

At the NBAA Convention last month, EMS Technologies announced that it will begin delivering its new four-channel HSD-400 satcom data terminal early next year. The product initially will support four channels of Inmarsat Swift64 and, according to the Ottawa, Canada-based company, can be upgraded to handle SwiftBroadband (formerly BGAN) service when Inmarsat launches its new I4 satellites in early 2006.

The HSD-400 builds on the current EMS Technologies HSD-128 dual-channel Swift64 terminal to provide additional data capability in the same form factor, according to the company.

Data Speeds Will Rival Corporate Networks
The “plug-and-play replacement” for the HSD-128 data terminal will support multiple SwiftBroadband channels, with each channel providing data rates of up to 432 kbps when SwiftBroadband service starts. The total throughput will rival the Internet connection speeds of corporate office networks on the ground.

“EMS Satcom has made a strong commitment to its customers to maintain our world leadership in the field of aeronautical satellite communications,” said Dr. Neil Mackay, senior v-p and general manager of EMS Technologies’ satcom division.

EMS’s communications products include high-speed-data terminals and channel extensions, satcom phased-array and mechanically steered antennas and DBA (direct broadcast antenna) radomes.

The HSD-400 will require only a software upgrade to activate its SwiftBroadband capability when the service becomes available, according to the manufacturer. The software upgrade to the HSD-400 can be performed in the field, eliminating the need for the aircraft to be taken out of service, a spokesman said.

The Atlanta-based company will also provide a service bulletin to existing HSD-128 customers advising them how to take advantage of a hardware and software upgrade that will enable their terminals to operate four channels of Swift64 for a total data capacity of up to 256 kbps. The upgrade, consisting of a software load and LRU circuit card replacement, will give the more than 300 HSD-128 systems in the field capability equivalent to that of the HSD-400, said Gary Hebb, v-p for engineering and business development of EMS Satcom. The HSD-400 terminal will support airborne cellphone use, when available, without requiring a hardware upgrade, he added.

Video Conferencing
According to EMS, the HSD-400 and upgraded HSD-128 will allow the company to provide aircraft operators the increased bandwidth necessary to meet growing needs for data-intensive applications such as Internet telephony and VPN (virtual private network) connections to corporate data networks, along with high-quality video conferencing.