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  • Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Phasor (The World's first cost effective, electronically steerable, digital, low profile, phased array antenna to enable high speed satellite communications on the move)

Phasor Report Summary

Project ID: 666741

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Phasor (The World's first cost effective, electronically steerable, digital, low profile, phased array antenna to enable high speed satellite communications on the move)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Phasor aims to develop the world’s first cost effective, electronically steerable antenna to be used for high speed satellite communications on the move. The overall objective of this project is to successfully refine and scale up for market readiness an advanced antenna technology which will enable Phasor to gain a substantial market share in the Broadband Satellite Communications-on-the-Move (COTM) market and associated antenna markets. These ‘mobility’ markets represent a key growth area for the satellite communications industry and many leading analysts have cited the need for such antennas as fundamental and critical to its future success for both existing geo-stationery satellite services to moving platforms but of even greater importance to the success of the recently announced Mega-Constellation services of LEO and MEO systems such as Oneweb and Leosat. These are rapidly growing markets and demand for this technology is already burgeoning. Phasor expects to capture market share through the innovative advances in its communications technology which will be exploited in land transport, aerospace and maritime applications for GEO satellites but also the much wider market of fixed land based services associated with LEO & MEO services.

The demand for mobile communications has been growing rapidly for several decades and global data traffic has been increasing exponentially. Users of communication platforms demand fast and affordable connectivity, but current satellite communication antennas cannot fully meet this large and growing need: Mechanically steerable antennas are bulky, heavy and pose considerable vehicle integration challenges. Phased arrays based on military technology are too costly for commercial applications and low cost antennas trade-off the cost of the antenna against the requirement for much more expensive satellite bandwidth per Mbps transmitted. By exploiting disruptive technology, Phasor has a low cost market solution that is capable of meeting current and future market needs.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

At the start of the project our prototype system was proven at TRL6. The refinement and scale up process is well underway and has been progressing well and in line with the project plans. The only exception was a planned delay in the completion of the ASIC design, manufacture and packaging. This delay was justified by the additional technical benefits that will be delivered through broadening the scope of design activities and ensuring that a broader range of customer demands can be satisfied.

Phasor are now able to advance the project at an accelerated rate and will deliver a strategically important product with several unique capabilities not previously possible. This approach addresses the need to reduce antenna footprint and further reducing the production cost. These novel features represent a major step forward even beyond the holy grail offered by Phasor’s original concept. These features have led to advanced discussions with significant end-users and customers. The antenna module refinement has been completed and fabricated and tested well ahead of schedule. The test results from the antenna module have been extremely promising and well received when shared with our potential customers.

The project is on schedule in accordance with the amended agreement. As a result we, and our customers and partners are extremely pleased with the progress and the results obtained. We fully expect commercial success as a direct result of the support H2020 dedicated SME instrument in this action.

WP1 is now complete and has fed into WP2 and WP3. A bullet point summary of our work performed and major achievements to date are presented below:
• Rx & Tx antenna integration has increased probability of technology success significantly
• Major interest and advanced talks with potential customer
• Design work of ASIC was delayed due to Rx & Tx antenna integration, but has achieved
o Half manufacturing cost
o Reduce foot print for antenna
o More attractive to market to be reduced size and reduced cost
• The mounting on a test vehicle would not give quantifiable results therefore a simulation harness was built and used to perform tests of the antenna array.
• Antenna test results have been very positive and good customer feedback, when shared with customers.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Phasor intends to sell antenna hardware to network operators, systems integrators and prime contractors. As an innovative SME we are in frequent and close contact with our users to understand their specific needs. Major prospective customers have informed us that the current state of the art has significant limitations and does not fully meet their own or their downstream users’ needs. The USPs that will be delivered through this project are summarised below:

• Cost effective/rapid payback - our innovations allow us to compete on price with mechanically steerable antennas and on performance with military phased array antennas
• High performance - data rates scalable up to 100Mbps.
• Low profile/high aesthetics – low depth creates pleasing visuals and low drag antenna installation, yielding fuel efficiencies for high speed vehicles.
• Adaptable/conformable to any surface and retrofitable - panels can be located on shaped surfaces, reducing the profiles associated with current technologies
• Modular and scalable - panels can be combined to produce larger antenna and faster data transfer rates providing more economic connectivity
• Reliable/zero-maintenance - solid state with no moving parts.
• Satellite auto-tracking/fast refresh rates - milliseconds compared to tens of seconds for mechanical steerable antennas.
• Low shipping and storage costs - panels are easily stacked and boxed, lowering the costs associated with shipping, storage and installation.

The USPs listed above provides specific economic benefits to users compared to the current state of the art, primarily mechanically steerable dishes. The Phasor antenna provides a much better ROI compared to a conventional disc antenna. Efficiency is gained by virtue of the fact that the Phasor solution can be used at virtually all skews and elevation angles whilst operating with conventional modulation schemes. Ultimately, the primary cost of providing such services is the cost of satellite capacity. By enabling a significant reduction in this component of OPEX costs, a significantly more profitable service can be supported at an attractive cost to the end user.

The expansion of wireless presence enables increases in the number of consumers accessing and relying on mobile networks. The need for high data rate internet connectivity in all markets is supported by this project.

Market introduction will be managed strategically. For example, the high-end yacht market is both a prestigious market and far less price sensitive than passenger trains. Such markets also have fewer regulations than the aerospace market and access is more straightforward. The main focus of our rollout extended to focus on more technically demanding and price sensitive markets. However, no opportunities will be ignored - Phasor will operate flexibility in terms of exploitable opportunities.

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