Kymeta Demos Internet Connection Via Metamaterial Antenna

Kymeta's flat panel antenna using metamaterials to provide electronic beam steering and improved performance has been seen as the ideal technology for compact portable satellite terminals and as a fast tracking antenna for use on mobile platforms, including aircraft.

Kymeta previously demonstrated how the antenna could be used to downlink Ka-band satellite transmissions. Last week it demonstrated a two-way internet connection through Telesat's Anik F2 satellite, a key milestone in the commercial development of the antenna.

Commenting on the demonstration, Dr. Nathan Kundtz, Founder and CTO of Kymeta, said: “Seeing our research and development efforts culminate in this successful bi-directional satellite connection is like a dream come true. Our engineering team has worked many late hours to accomplish today’s demonstration, and it is a testament not only to our technology but also to our team of talented individuals working at Kymeta.”

Kymeta collaborated with Telesat to obtain regulatory certification for the Ka-band transmission using the flat panel antenna. The demonstration included a bi-directional Skype video call from a laptop.

In response to my request for more technical information on the demonstration such as transmit power level, margin and modulation used, Håkan Olsson, Sr. Director of Marketing at Kymeta Corporation responded:

“This demonstration was not intended to test the bandwidth speeds, but rather to demonstrate that a bi-directional internet connection is possible with the Kymeta metamaterials antennas. The speed of the connection was limited to the bandwidth of 1 Mbps that was provided by Telesat. As a reference--the receive-only demonstration in April used a 17 x16-inch aperture size which received a[n] HD video signal of 45 Mbps.”

Vern Fotheringham, Chairman and CEO of Kymeta, noted: “This is a tremendous milestone for our company. This successful demonstration proves that our technology is ready for commercial production, and we’re excited to move full steam ahead to develop transformative products and solutions for fixed, portable and mobile applications.”

The Kymeta antenna, when combined with the many Ka-band offerings from companies including HughesNet and ViaSat, could provide an excellent alternative to SNG trucks for news coverage from remote locations as well as providing a faster way to establish emergency communications in the event of disaster. There is increasing interest in using Ka-band satellites to provide Internet connectivity in-flight. A pair of Kymeta flat panel antennas could provide a more reliable way of maintaining connectivity with geostationary satellites than the mechanical tracking systems currently used on aircraft. Kymeta said it expects to have prototype units ready for field trials in 2014 with initial availability of commercial products in early 2015.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.