A flat panel antenna is a kind of directional antenna, which means it only sends and receives radio signals from one direction. It has a broader beam, allowing the signal to reach a larger area. Flat-panel antennas are used for military, naval, and commercial aircraft radar and are today being developed for marine satellite communications applications.
In the early years following the discovery of satellites, the prevalent trend was to construct and develop larger spacecraft which included huge subsystems, which made the satellites more competent and efficient.
The space industry’s transformation is being fueled mostly by technological advancements in launch and satellite production technologies satellite technology has made it possible for a global communications satellite sector to help in reducing the global Earth coverage gap.
According to BIS Research, the worldwide satellite flat panel antenna market is expected to reach $18.39 billion by 2031, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.63 percent between 2021 and 2031. The rising need for satellite-based connectivity services across various applications such as communication and navigation are a primary driving force for the market’s strength.
Flat-panel antennas using phased array technology are utilized for military, naval, and commercial aircraft radar, as well as satellite television. Flat panel antennas are being developed to make them a more feasible choice in the marine industry, and numerous technology types are being considered, with ‘phased array’ currently being the most viable.
A phased array is a group of computer-scanned and controlled antennas that can produce a steerable beam of radio waves even while the antennas are stationary. The antenna elements of a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) are connected to a single transmitter/receiver, but each antenna element in an electronically scanned array (AESA) has its own transmitter/receiver unit.
‘Meta-materials’ are used to create another sort of flat panel antenna. These antennas have passive, adjustable parts that scatter radio frequency energy when triggered to form a holographic beam, which has the potential to improve electronic beam steering. A third technology will utilize ‘optical beam shaping,’ combining active and passive components.
A satellite internet connection eliminates the requirement for any ground infrastructure to access the internet service. The global space economy is quickly expanding as a result of the increased demand for satellite-based connectivity services in a variety of applications such as communication, navigation, and Earth observation.
Due to satellite constellations, internet service providers may serve networks all over the world at a speed of several hundred megabits per second over vast distances such as entire continents and seas. It is now possible to connect many remote sites via a secure link. Companies, however, have concentrated on creating alternatives to offer adequate and steady signals to assure data services for mobile applications as well as hard-to-reach places using a flat panel antenna.
Through mega-constellations of satellites, firms are competing to provide the cheapest, high-speed internet services to worldwide.
The mega constellation has a wide range of possible applications, such as the following:
- 5G communication services for IoT devices in fleet management and remote asset maintenance
- Government services for digitalization of economies, emergency response, and educating citizens
- Reliable connectivity for automobiles, trains, ships, and aircraft in the transportation business
- Direct services to the consumer market, including places with limited or no service
Flat Panel Antennas – Pros
- Flat-panel antennas might be smaller and more discrete in the shipping sector than the massive radomes commonly used on larger boats for broadband satellite communication.
- Flat-panel phased array antennas follow satellites electronically while remaining stationary, eliminating the need for moving elements that might wear out and malfunction.
Flat Panel Antennas – Cons
- It can be more difficult for flat panel antennas to maintain a solid link to the satellite since the pitching and rolling of vessels can occasionally result in the antenna not being entirely perpendicular to the satellite.
- Multiple antennas may be required in some instances, which may be more expensive than installing a parabolic antenna. Alternatively, a mechanical steering mechanism might be implemented, resulting in significantly bigger antennas that are not flat.
Due to the increased demand for constant on-the-move connectivity regardless of location, flat-panel antenna technology is gaining significant popularity with governments and business users.