MOST recently announced it is offering commercial availability of internet, video, and voice service for helicopters, which solves a long-term challenge for the industry.
Broadband coverage under the blades is now available.
For helicopter crews, the use of internet, video, and voice service is vital for sharing information about what is happening on the ground and to other airborne vehicles, for example, in areas of conflict and natural disasters.
Previously, helicopters used a mixture of cellular and low data rate satellites to communicate with people on the ground and other airborne vehicles, however, neither technology is well-suited for high-altitude helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. Cellular has three drawbacks: signals can only reach about 500 meters above ground level, devices are often required to roam over different networks whilst the helicopter is moving over longer distances and, thirdly, cellular can be unreliable or unavailable outside urban areas and especially in mountain, desert and sea situations where helicopters are often deployed in emergency situations.
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Likewise, low data rate satellite services are only able to provide low-bandwidths to any kind of moving vehicle — and for helicopters there is the added problem that such low data rate satellite antennas see the sky with reduced data rate because of the helicopter blades acting as a ceiling and chopping the satellite signal.
After extensive work by the R-and-D teams at MOST, on June 20, the company completed comprehensive tests of the new MKu30H system. MKu30H provides exceptional data speeds at little economical expense. Data rates of about two megabits per second (mbps) uplink and two mbps downlink have been achieved on regular basis. Now, each helicopter equipped with MOST MKu30H antenna and modem connects internet, video, and voice to any standard satellite ground HUB station around the globe.
“We have cracked a long-term problem for the industry; how to provide GEO connectivity under the blades. Now we are able to provide economical cost, high-speed service that enables internet and video in real-time. This will be important for instance in emergency medical situations where the use of internet and video whilst an injured person is on a helicopter, it can be a life-saver,” said MOST chief executive Zack Berejik.