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Kymeta/Inmarsat Partner to Develop In-Flight Connectivity Antenna

Last week Kymeta and Inmarsat announced that the two companies have signed an agreement “to develop a revolutionary satellite antenna” that will enable “business jets of any size to access high-speed broadband connectivity globally” through Inmarsat's “Global Xpress” service. The companies said the proprietary Kymeta Aero Antenna will only be available to Global Xpress users.

As previously reported, the Kymeta antenna uses meta-materials and electronics to electronically change the antenna pattern, allowing it to track a satellite from a moving vehicle without a bulky mechanical gyroscopic positioning system. On an aircraft two panels are used to provide a wider tracking range as the aircraft banks. Other configurations are available – see Kymeta's Aeronautical Terminal Products page for drawings of typical installations. The mTenna Core Module specifications show a scan range of ± 65 degrees from broadside with a 20 to 30 degree per second, elevation and azimuth, beam steering rate. No data is provided on beamwidth.

“Our technology for flat-panel, beam-forming antennas will enable a number of new markets and a new generation of customers to benefit from lower-cost, high-speed satellite Internet connectivity anywhere in the world,” said Vern Fotheringham, Kymeta’s chief executive officer. “We are excited to reach this milestone and engage with Inmarsat to bring next-generation broadband services into the global business aviation market.”

Reading about the combination of the Kymeta antenna and Inmarsat's Global Xpress, I wonder when variations might appear that could be used for international news gathering, perhaps from helicopters (or even drones)? Kymeta's Website shows small Ka-band antennas that look like they could be hand carried and also antennas on vehicles that could be ideal for live satellite news reports from anywhere.

Doug Lung

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.