Now That’s Real Cloud Computing: AeroSat Gets $14 Million To Take Broadband Wireless to the Skies

5/30/08

Soon, transatlantic flights may no longer be a safe haven from the daily grind of e-mail and the Web. AeroSat, an aviation communications company based in Amherst, NH, has developed a broadband antenna system that could allow passengers to connect to the Internet, use cell phones, and watch live television while flying.

AeroSat’s technology can do more than just send data between a single airplane and the ground. Aircraft outfitted with these antennas can also link to each other, transmitting the broadband signals between themselves across the ocean and down to ground stations, without using satellites.

AeroSat claims that it will take only nine ground stations along the coasts and seven aircraft over the ocean (at any given time) to provide broadband coverage the whole way across the Atlantic. Even ships can link to the network as long as they have an airplane in their line of sight. According to the company, this proposed transatlantic network would be more than a thousand times faster than today’s standard satellite service and operate at a fraction of the cost.

Investors seem to think the idea of an AeroSat network is clear skies ahead. Earlier this week the company announced that it has received $14 million in new funding, from existing investors CAI Managers & Co. and AeroEquity, and a new investor, Boston-based PAR Capital Management. The money will go into expanding AeroSat’s product line and production capacity.

“Our growth in the past five years has been dramatic—we have more than quadrupled our workforce, and we are expanding our production capacity tenfold,” said CEO Michael Barret in a press release. To make room for the volume production, the company will move its production and testing to new, larger facilities in Nashua, NH, in August.

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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