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SmartSky Networks Brings 4G LTE-based Connectivity to Commercial Airlines


SmartSky’s ATG platform and robust 60 MHz spectrum – 20 times the industry ATG standard of 3 MHz – opens up full-throttle, unrestricted access to the web. Think of all the ways to leverage this connectivity for passenger experience, operations, marketing, finance, and much more.



Current satellite and ATG solutions hinder operational apps and services that demand bidirectional high bandwidth and low latency.  By design those systems allocate the majority of their bandwidth in the forward link delivering data to the aircraft. SmartSky 4G LTE stands apart as no other IFC service offers a comparable return link to offload data from the aircraft. SmartSky has engineered a return link with the same performance levels as the forward link.  This allows the network to support time critical, low latency operational applications affording savings in both direct operating expense and cost of ownership.



For flights outside the US, having both Satellite and ATG installed on the aircraft is an excellent way to provide connectivity with optimal service and substantially reduce connectivity operating costs. SmartSky 4G LTE is designed for hybrid solutions and integrates easily with existing and future satellite IFC infrastructure. When both satellite and SmartSky are onboard, Cabin Wi-Fi Access Points (CWAPs) approved for use with SmartSky 4G LTE work to provide optimal routing between the ATG and satellite connection.

Benefits of hybrid solutions:
While satellites provide connectivity outside the US with speed in the forward link to the aircraft, their return links to get data off the aircraft are severely limited. SmartSky 4G LTE delivers optimal bidirectional high bandwidth data transfers. The SmartSky network also provides extremely low latency, which enables applications for real-time communications. This low latency is the result of the design for the air-to-ground connection, as well as the Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) utilized on the ground.

Costs and savings with hybrid solutions:
Integrating a satellite solution with SmartSky 4G LTE is affordable and can save ongoing connectivity costs. While satellite unit price per MB can be 5x higher than SmartSky 4G LTE, the satellite equipment costs are also 5-10x that of SmartSky 4G LTE. Combining the savings on data costs using optimal cost routing via the CWAP, coupled with the low costs of SmartSky 4G LTE installation can save upwards of $1M in expenses through least cost routing over a ten year period for the typical heavy business jet and even more on airlines due to their higher utilization. Further, this is the net savings, as it is inclusive of the incremental capital cost of adding SmartSky 4G LTE to an aircraft already equipped with a satellite IFC solution.


SmartSky’s air-to-ground (ATG) network takes flight with nationwide network rollout estimated in mid-2018. Plans call for international expansion after the U.S. network is in place.

SmartSky’s engineering team designed our network to typically deliver a rich, 4G inflight connectivity experience. SmartSky cannot guarantee service availability within this map of its planned U.S. coverage area.Actual service, quality, and availability (including initiation, validation and maintenance of an inflight connection) can be affected by signal strength, aircraft and network traffic volume, service outages, network changes, site rollout sequencing, governmental regulatory changes and other conditions.