A few weeks ago Panasonic Avionics revealed it is still shopping around for an antenna for its in-flight connectivity solution, after deciding that Starling’s Mijet antenna was not yet up to its specs. Today, Starling announced a memorandum of agreement with EMS Technologies to offer a new Ku band antenna for the US market. Coincidence? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
But the timing, to say the least, is very interesting indeed. “We want a better overall performance that will meet our requirements not today but meet our requirements down the road,” Panasonic director of strategic product marketing David Bruner told me in January.
Perhaps Panasonic will get its wish. Under the agreement disclosed today, Israel's Starling and Georgia-headquartered EMS’s Defense & Space Systems (D&SS) division will offer an ultra-lightweight (45lb), low-profile antenna that will enable “full-featured broadband in-flight applications, such as the Internet, VPN [virtual private network], PDA, VoIP [voice over IP], e-mail, mobile phones, video conferencing, instant messaging and various entertainment applications, including video-on-demand, live TV, online gaming and multimedia applications”.
But here’s a yummy piece of info for ya. The joint product with EMS is a mature product and will be ready within a few months!!! So says Starling VP marketing and sales Jacob Keret, who was kind enough to call me just before he hopped on a flight. Thank You!
Oh yes, and before you write off Mijet, you should know that it has a customer, thank you very much. Certification is underway, and little sister mini-Mijet will be certified in the third quarter. Stay tuned for more info about this – I’ve got to write some follow-up articles for Air Transport Intelligence and Flight first!
But before I dash off, let me leave you with this thought. EMS direct broadcast satellite (DBS) antenna systems are currently sold through JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV. JetBlue general manager of product development Brett Muney said yesterday at an EMS-sponsored event in DC that a broadband offering is among the in-flight connectivity solutions being studied by the airline. Could LiveTV use a new EMS/Starling antenna to offer satellite-based connectivity onboard JetBlue A320s? What about LiveTV's other customers - Frontier and WestJet (and now Continental Airlines)?
Anyone dizzy yet?
(Photo above right of Runway Girl with Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis and WestJet executive Darren Marchinko at a reception last September during WAEA in Toronto)