Eight-gigabit data connection to aircraft tested

Posted May 30, 2018 by Tim Sandle
The process of communicating via the Internet on an aircraft has been significantly advanced following a test involving an eight-gigabit data connection on-board an aircraft.
Canadian Bombardier aircraft CSseries is shown in Mirabel  Quebec
Canadian Bombardier aircraft CSseries is shown in Mirabel, Quebec
Clement Sabourin, AFP/File
For most aircraft passengers today, Internet access is expensive and not terribly reliable, resulting in most passengers opting to put their mobile devices into ‘flight mode’. The idea of a ‘super-fast’ Internet is not really technologically possible, making the idea of streaming videos seem very remote.
Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have successfully tested out a data link to an 8 GB/s on-board an aircraft in flight. This is the first time that a connection of this level has been achieved during flight.
The experiment was performed as part of the "ELIPSE" research project funded by the German Aerospace Center and the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. The tests showed, as Smart2Zero reports, that a data rate of 8 GB/s was achieved, across the frequency range of between 71 and 76 GHz, achieved via an air-to-ground radio link. With the tests, the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1,000 meters and it was within a radius of 5 to 12 kilometers from the transmission source.
Across the tested frequency range, large bandwidths are available which enables multi-gigabit data rates to be achieved. This frequency band was recently made available by international authorities for aircraft use. This data rate also means that the simultaneous transmission of over 600 different video streams, each in high-resolution 4K quality, is possible.
The outcome of the tests means that soon broadband Internet and video-on-demand should be could be available in passenger aircraft in the future. There are other applications as well which can assist with aircraft performance, such as the use of high-resolution videos for pilots; or capturing sensor data from an aircraft.
In addition, communications with observation satellites or a drone can also be maintained, with two-way data flows working continuously, and real-time, without the need for the signals to be compressed.
The use of satellites adds another dimension to the project since orbiting satellite networks, each integrated into fiber optic and wireless networks on Earth, can take advantage of the technology to provide broadband Internet for the Internet of Things.