Kymeta strikes deal with Aurum to bring mTenna to CAV

Kymeta sign (Kymeta)
Kymeta says satellites offer 1,000 times more available spectrum than terrestrial networks. (Kymeta)

Kymeta, the startup that aims to use satellite technology to deliver internet to cars and other things, plans to work with Aurum Security to bring its mTenna high-throughput satellite connectivity to VIP and civilian armored vehicles (CAV).

The partnership means CAV manufacturers and integrators will be able to deliver global connectivity to their customers without having to impact the natural design lines of the vehicle. Kymeta's flat-panel satellite terminals fit invisibly between the headliner and roof of a variety of vehicles to provide internet access anywhere with a view of the sky.

That’s important for CAV integrators that want to deliver the latest technology without compromising the natural aesthetics of the vehicle or highlighting which vehicle in a convoy is the communications hub, according to the company.

Kymeta asserts that cellular networks are “less secure, easily jammed and compromised, and unable to scale globally or across international borders,” whereas its technology provides access where terrestrial networks are unavailable and eliminates the threat of lost communication during catastrophes should terrestrial networks go down.

RELATED: Fierce 15 2016: Kymeta connecting vehicles via satellite

The Redmond, Washington-based company, named to the Fierce 15 list last year, developed technology that uses software-driven tunable, metamaterial elements to holographically create a beam that can be electronically steered to follow a satellite, meaning it can stay connected even while moving. Kymeta says satellites offer 1,000 times more available spectrum than terrestrial networks.

Kymeta mTenna satellite solutions for CAVs will become commercially available the second quarter of 2017.

Strategy Analytics analyst Roger Lanctot says that while Kymeta is targeting the 38,000 civilian armored VIP vehicles manufactured annually, its longer term goal is to pursue the larger mass passenger vehicle market in partnership with IntelSat. “This initial market step will set the stage for broader deployment in coming years,” Lanctot said in a blog post.

“Kymeta’s longer term goal is to collaborate with car companies, such as Toyota and others, to enable broadcast-based software updating capability,” Lanctot wrote. “The deal with Aurum Security opens a shorter path to market while the passenger car solutions are still in development. But the Aurum deal also reveals the direct relevance between connectivity and security—especially if your financial resources allow it.”

Satellite technology remains an expensive silver bullet for vehicle connectivity, but the introduction of Ku band transmission to moving vehicles is a game changer, he said. “Car makers are slowly coming around to realize that they need a secure wireless means to connect to all of their cars wherever they are around the world,” he said, adding that advanced cellular technologies such as 4.5G LTE and 5G will help, but satellite is now part of the connectivity mix—especially for transmissions requiring high bandwidth and security for urgent software updates and even for low-bandwidth emergency transmissions.

Kymeta’s director of marketing, Lisa Dreher, told FierceWireless last fall that the company planned to launch its mTenna technology for the maritime market in early 2017, but it also sees applications for its technology in commercial aircraft, business jets and cargo and military aircraft. The company will be demonstrating its technology at the Global Space Congress in Dubai, UAE, next week.