EBACE Convention News

eNfusion CNX product bows here

 - May 9, 2007, 11:56 AM

A new fourth model in EMS Satcom’s eNfusion CNX line of mobile cabin gateways is making its debut here at EBACE’07 (Booth No. 1030). The new CNX-400 adds a private branch exchange (PBX) function to the existing CNX-200 network accelerator unit and comes with additional hardware to support multiple extensions.

The baseline CNX-100 airborne router combines Internet protocol (IP) and ISDN routing with security services, an Ethernet switch and a wireless access point. The
-200, with data compression and acceleration technology from Expand Networks, gives up to five times the performance available from traditional networking equipment. And the CNX-300 combines the -100’s functionality with a Cisco 3200 series mobile access router to provide advanced routing, voice over IP (VoIP) and virtual private network technology.

“With the CNX-400 we’ve taken the program a step forward and added a PBX to the capability of the CNX-200,” said John Broughton, senior director of product development with the Ottawa, Canada-based company.

The new model–which the company bills as “more of a system than just a single software addition to the box”–will also add a cabin data bus expander (CDBX), a small box slightly larger than a cigarette pack, to provide the two- and four-wire interfaces to new or existing phones in the cabin. A telephone will also be available as part of the system.

Avionics boxes do not have enough pins to support multiple phones, so the CDBX will be connected to the CNX-400 by Ethernet and one or more will support as many handsets as are required, up to a maximum of 32. Cabin gateways are installed on aircraft ranging in size from the Falcon 900 and 2000 to the Boeing 757 and 767, added Jean Menard, vice president of commercial sales. “Larger aircraft may need two or three CDBX boxes to cover handsets in all the areas they are needed,” he said.

“Customers have been asking for an expanded voice capability for quite a while, so this is answering a very specific customer want,” said Broughton. Alpha testing with customers has started, and following further refinement and qualification the new product should be available by the end of this year. “The CNX is turning out to be quite a popular solution for the corporate market, so we engineered it to provide both a new feature set and an upgrade possibility for existing users,” he said.

The CNX-300, which was launched just two months ago at the Aircraft Electronics Association show in Reno, Nevada, was developed primarily for the military market to support secure communication over encrypted links. “Some corporate customers are also very interested in the flexibility that the Cisco router brings to the CNX,” Menard said.

Since it started deliveries at the end of 2004, EMS has shipped around 300 CNX devices. “We knew that for every piece of equipment we would be delivering a CNX would be required,” commented Broughton. “What we probably underestimated is that it has become a system of choice for other high-speed data satellite communication systems out there.”

On-board satcom setups typically include a mix of equipment from multiple manufacturers. The reason EMS embarked on the CNX development was because “that mixing and matching was never entirely a happy event,” admitted Menard. “But when we designed the cabin gateway series we specifically had in mind that it would work not only with our satcom but with anybody else’s L-band or, for that matter, even Ku-band satcom.”