SmartSky Networks has begun the final site completion phase of its air-to-ground (ATG) 4G LTE data network for business and commercial aviation, adding that its network is 5G-ready once that technology becomes available. Initial 4G LTE service will soon cover areas where 80 percent of business jet flights (by flight hours) take place in the U.S., followed by continental U.S. coverage by year-end.
The airborne network “incorporates many 5G wireless technologies that have been experienced during a large number of highly successful in-flight demonstrations,” it said, countering competitor Gogo’s announcement earlier this week that it would launch a 5G ATG network in 2021. “SmartSky uses 5G technology broadly and the network’s future-ready design can incorporate advancements appropriate for ATG as those technology upgrades become available.”
According to SmartSky, its network already includes many 5G components and features, such as software-defined radios, network function virtualization, network slicing, beamforming, and low-latency architecture.
“The 5G technology already demonstrated in our network is a clear competitive edge in the market,” said SmartSky chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “Now that we’re in the final stages of deployment, all the hard work and years of effort are about to pay off, as customers will be able to use the network in a matter of months.”