Going Airborne

January 17, 2018 08:00 AM

In 2017, ads for Airborne Wireless Network appeared in Forbes, on Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN and now in MODERN TRADER. We wanted to get a better idea of the company’s principal business strategy of developing and licensing the first fully meshed, high-speed broadband network by linking aircraft in flight. In essence, an airborne wireless network. 

Airborne  Wireless  Network (ABWN) is an early-stage, pre-revenue, publicly traded, OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) technology company setting out to build the Infinitus Digital Superhighway, the first broadband global wireless communication infrastructure by using and modifying existing, small, light-weight, low-power relay station equipment and antennae that will be installed on board aircraft.

We caught up with Marius de Mos, Airborne’s VP of Technical Affairs and Development (see “ABWN VP of Technical Affairs and Development Marius de Mos,” below). 

Marius has a 43-year career in worldwide telecommunications and was an instrumental part of the team that developed and introduced the first full duplex home cordless telephone (1977); in 1982, this became the basis for the wireless Airfone application, the first FAA approved airborne in-cabin wireless commercial telephone system.  

The business thesis for Airborne Aireless Network is that limited satellite bandwidth, combined with the inherent air-to-ground connectivity challenges of current solutions, underscores the challenges to meet the current and growing demand.

Air travelers are well aware of the limitations of Wi-Fi services offered by commercial airlines. The integrity of those services depends on a single link, either accessing a cellular tower, or a satellite. This limits customer usage to non-real time services, as such technology suffers from single points of failure. Service is often interrupted and slow, due to an infrastructure not designed to handle the demand for data traffic. 

Infinitus intends to use aircraft in flight to create a fully meshed broadband airborne wireless network. Each aircraft equipped with Infinitus would have a broadband wireless communication link to one or more neighboring aircraft and/or ground stations. As such, if a link is ever interrupted, the signal would be redirected to the next participating aircraft or ground station in the chain. In other words, multiple, simultaneous data connections would exist at all times and the system would not rely on a single link, as is the case with existing technology.

The aircraft would form a chain of seamless airborne repeaters or routers providing broadband wireless communication gateways along the entire flight path, essentially creating a digital superhighway in the sky. Airborne intends to act as a wholesale carrier, licensing bandwidth to data service providers (such as major telecommunications companies and other Internet Service Providers) that provide broadband services to end users, to government agencies and to companies that desire a more robust private broadband network. They do not plan to license or sell Infinitus directly to consumers.   

MODERN TRADER does not publish recommendations on publicly traded companies that advertise with us. This editorial is intended to provide readers with more understanding of a visible early-stage company pursuing new technologies. The OTCBB is operated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and is not part of The Nasdaq Stock Market. Microcap companies typically have limited assets and operations, tend to be low priced and trade in low volumes.


ABWN VP of Technical Affairs and Development Marius de Mos

MODERN TRADER: Earlier in May, the company was granted an experimental FCC license to begin air-to-air system evaluations. What were the results? 

Marius de Mos: The primary purpose of the proof of concept test was to prove that ABWN’s airborne mesh network is viable.  We installed the Infinitus Super Highway equipment on two Boeing 767-300ER modified jets, then flew the jets simultaneously while passing real time broadband data between each airborne aircraft and a ground station. We successfully demonstrated aircraft-to-ground communication, ground-to-aircraft communication, and aircraft-to-aircraft-to-ground-and-back communication.  In essence, we created the first non-military airborne mesh network. 

MT: What federal certifications are ultimately required to commercially deploy the network?

MD: The two U.S. government agencies that will have primary regulatory authority over our operations are the FAA and the FCC.  In March 2017, we filed with the FCC an application for an experimental operating certificate to begin air-to-air and air-to-ground meshed network system evaluations. That license was granted in May 2017 and allowed us to begin ground and flight radio frequency transmission testing of Infinitus.

MT:  Can your network really provide wireless coverage in underserved rural areas on the ground? 

MD: Underserved rural areas are just one of the many potential service areas or end users we may serve.  The potential customers we seek are data service providers, such as larger telecommunications carriers and Internet Service Providers, including those that provide in-cabin connectivity, such as GoGo Inflight, rural service providers, maritime access providers, government agencies, the Department of Defense, and large private companies seeking to either establish their own private networks, or improve their existing private networks.

MT: Is there a competitor who is pursuing a moving meshed network, and sold on commercial airlines?

MD: Not that we are aware of.

MT: Where is the biggest upside?

MD: Assuming that our upcoming Hybrid Radio and Laser Communications Flight Test will be successful, we could carry more data through the skies than is currently carried through fiber in the ground. We believe we would be able to augment and help existing Broadband capacity via global telco’s or Internet Service Provider companies carrying huge amounts of data from point A to point B. 

MT: Would that be at a comparable or a greater speed?

MD: More and greater speed, because we’re modulating the speed of light. If our upcoming Hybrid Radio and Laser Communications Flight Test is successful; we believe speeds in the gigabits per second or greater between airborne aircraft would be possible. The key is to be able to re-synchronize the laser because the data speed is so fast we can send huge packets. If it gets interrupted, we broaden the radio bandwidth and use that until the laser reestablishes itself, so it could be virtually seamless.

About the Author

Jeff Joseph is the CEO of The Alpha Pages, the parent company of Modern Trader magazine.
E-mail him at jj@alphapages.com or find him on Twitter @alphapagesceo and @venturepopulist.