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Flight Focus, A*STAR team up on SDR-based comms system

Posted: 01 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SDR? software-defined radio? communication system? in-flight communications?

Singapore-based Flight Focus Pte Ltd, a provider of innovative avionics and Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) solutions, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Arising from a bilateral partnership under the A*STAR Aerospace Program, Flight Focus and I2R will be developing a software-defined radio (SDR)-based cabin communications platform that will enable in-flight communications with different devices.

Working with A*STAR, Flight Focus expects to launch by the end of this year a system that will enable cheap SMS through GSM mobile phones during flight..

"The main concept is that normally, if you take a look at a GSM base station, it uses a lot of dedicated circuitry to implement the GSM protocols and interface. What we are doing is that we are using the parallel, general-purpose processing structure, but all protocols, from the lowest level to the highest level, are implemented in the software. Literally, we are shifting it up and down by software control, and there's no hardware modulizing anythingit's all in the software," explained Ralf Calbos, managing director of Flight Focus.

Other designs with discrete circuitry usually come in two- or three-box systems, which burn more power and only use one set of frequency. Using SDR, Calbos said Flight Focus was able to design a system that essentially has four base stations. "We could change the frequency as we want, we can change the modulation as we want, and we could turn it into CDMA if we want," said Calbos.

One derivative of the Flight Focus Platform that the company will be exhibiting at the Singapore Airshow on February 14-19 is a WiFi version, which will offer, through an app, in-flight entertainment (IFE) services such as real-time gaming and video- and music-on-demand. Calbos says while this are initially targeted at low-cost carriers, his company is seeing increased interest in premium airlines now as well.

Flight Focus's system design, final assembly, testing and repair are all done in Singapore. The company also has partners and supporting organizations in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia. In Indonesia in particular, the company does software design. Aircraft engineering as well as flight support operations, meanwhile, are done out of Malaysia.

- Stephen Las Marias for A*STAR

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