In recent years, there has been increased consumer demand for consistent high-throughput communications while consumers are on the move. As a result, there is a growing need for affordable applications for satellite communications on the move (SOTM) for trains, planes, yachts, and UAVS as well as distributed phased-array radar systems. To meet these demands, a flat, electronically steered antenna array recently proved that it can satisfy objectives in an operational test.

The antenna, which hails from Phasor Solutions, measures just 1 in. in height, covering a surface of 0.7 x 1 m. The company is hoping that it will be the first commercially available, affordable, electronically steerable antenna at the Ku-band. In testing, it supported a high-definition video transmission via Intelsat 905, successfully forming and auto-pointing the RF beam to acquire the signal emitted from the satellite and then demodulating the high-quality video. The beam is steerable over 70 deg. and is inertia-free. It allows for rapid scanning while overcoming the limitations of motorized parabolic reflector antennas and offering equivalent or greater gain.

The array aperture can conform to any curved surface, such as an aircraft fuselage or train roof. It also can be extended to provide any required gain. This aspect allows support for higher-date-rate links while minimizing satellite capacity demands and charges. In addition to the Ku-band, the technology is applicable at the X-, Ka-, or other bands. With the recent testing ahead of schedule, commercial launch of the antenna array is expected in 2014.