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Transformational change on the horizon for intercity bus connectivity market in LATAM

Like so many other places around the world, Latin America is in the grip of the mobile revolution. In 2016, the GSM Association published a report that forecast the number of people across the Latin American and Caribbean region using their mobile devices to access the Internet is set to grow by 50 percent by 2020. That’s coupled with 150 million new mobile Internet subscribers. These are truly impressive figures.

The fact is that people are now using their mobile devices everywhere. Our need for connectivity literally follows us wherever we go. Whether we are checking emails before we reach the office or simply catching up with friends on social media, our need for access and connectivity continues to skyrocket. As a vibrant and dynamic emerging market, Latin America’s rapid growth in mobile Internet subscribers is creating a demand for Internet everywhere, especially when travelling, and in this region travel often means via intercity buses and coaches.

In the report by Statistical, “Global Transit Bus Market – Forecast 2015-2022”, it is predicted that the number of heavy duty transit buses will increase by over 30,000 in South America by 2022. This is also backed up by Azoth Analytics, which forecasts a growth of 7.38% CAGR in their 2017 report, “Global Bus Fleet Market: Analysis By Type, By Region, By Country: Opportunities and Forecast (2012-2022)”. The 2017 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the U.S. recognised that this increasing demand for buses is being driven by a combination of urbanisation as well as growth in environmental concerns and a rise in the cost of fuel. However, the report also notes that the other key factor that is attracting passengers to intercity buses is the gradual transformation of the passenger experience on board through the inclusion of on-board Wi-Fi, enabling passengers to stay connected whilst on the move.

Bus passenger connectivity requires a great deal of bandwidth and highly reliable connectivity that will not cut out when the vehicle moves out in and out of range of terrestrial wireless networks. That’s why Phasor and Hispasat have come together to address this rising mobile connectivity demand for professional and passenger vehicles across Hispasat’s extensive coverage areas.

In March 2018, Phasor signed an agreement with the Spanish satellite operator to develop a Ku-band, electronically steerable antenna (ESA) that will be tailored specifically to meet the unique requirements of certain land mobility applications, including intercity buses. This terminal will use the same core technology that is found in Phasor’s commercial maritime and aeronautical ESA solutions. Phasor’s technology is completely unique and ideally suited to land mobile applications due to its very low profile, automated signal acquisition and tracking, and its reliable and robust delivery of the high-bandwidth services that are so in demand across Latin America.  The ESA can be flat or conformal in design and can be fitted seamlessly to moving vehicles, easily enabling land-mobile applications. The same technology supports traditional fixed satellite networks, High Throughput Satellites, and Non-Geosynchronous satellite constellations. Phasor’s modular antenna architecture allows the system to be scaled to virtually any use-case requirement, fixed or mobile.

Established 5 years ago, the Phasor team initially began looking at connectivity solutions via satellite for the high speed rail industry, but quickly realised that the technology could meet use cases for any form of transport with the requirement for enterprise grade connectivity.

Phasor went on to demonstrate the impressive performance of the antenna system through the transmission of live HD video over satellite with partner, Omni Access. An uplink performance of 25Mbps was achieved with an 8 module system from a moving platform which demanded rapid beam scanning. The Phasor antenna was able to transmit a full HD video stream using efficient MODCODs (Modulation and Coding techniques), avoiding the need for any form of inefficient spread-spectrum techniques and maintained perfect pointing with no ASI (Adjacent Satellite Interference) throughout. These off-satellite tests confirmed the performance characteristics and capability of the technology. Since then, the Team has continued to develop and perfect the capabilities of the system for the different target user-markets.

The company has taken several significant steps forward this past year and is now focused on the commercialisation of its game-changing technology and ESA products.  After successfully closing its’ oversubscribed B-Round of financing from a group of leading satellite communications mobility companies, financial investors and shareholders, Phasor has moved on to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8, which sees the team preparing for beta test activities. Upon completion of successful field tests, Phasor will commercially offer its “Release 1” maritime and land mobile ESA products, followed by products for the aviation sector. 

The Phasor antenna system will be available in multiple iterations and frequency bands, but are all designed around the same core technology. The Release 1 Products will address a combination of Tx/Rx requirements tailored for each target market and use-case.  Phasor is already designing and developing its Release 2 products which will demonstrate even more feature functionality, to be offered in the future.

Thanks to this innovative antenna technology, drivers and passengers in buses will be able to enjoy a high-quality connected experience that can include Internet access, mobile telephone services, and even entertainment services on board.

Phasor is committed to transforming access to mobile broadband connectivity, no matter where is the world it is required. Its highly scalable, flexible and future-proof design is soon to bring about disruptive change to the enterprise mobile broadband market across Latin America - and beyond.