By Milana Marshall
In today’s world, information has become easily accessible, allowing our society to advance at never seen before rates. The internet has become a pillar of our day-to-day life. Disadvantaged communities without access to the internet and communication technology are becoming isolated and falling deeper out of the ever-advancing flow of society, limiting opportunities for millions of people.
Understanding the gravity of this dilemma, Dr. Patrick Gbele studied viable solutions. Gbele, received his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Arizona and went on to complete his postdoctoral in Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida CREOL (Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers).
Upon his success in academia, Dr. Gbele contracted with the US Government Agency NSF – National Science Foundation – to launch his patent pending technology named STELLA (Satcom Technology of Elaborate Luneburg Lens Antenna). STELLA was based on a technology that he and his teammates at the University of Arizona (UArizona) invented many years ago, which was published in 2014. Gbele founded United States Air Tech (USAT) with the intention to connect disadvantaged areas using his invention of the cost-effective, advanced satellite communication technology.
Today, USAT is a thriving startup that specializes in two forms of wireless communications, LEO-SATCOM (Low Earth Orbit-Satellite Communication) and 5G mobile phone/internet in Tucson Arizona. Staying true to company values, USAT is diligent about finding innovative and efficient ways to reduce the price and make the technology widely accessible.
“We want internet connectivity and 5G mobile phone for all. Mobile phone and internet connectivity should not be a luxury afforded by only 4 billion out of the 7.5 billion people on Earth. USAT is working hard to bring connection to remote areas and disadvantaged communities. That is why we have developed STELLA, now a trademark filed with the USPTO. Global connectivity drives me. I want to bring people together,” shared Dr. Patrick Gbele.
USAT’s flagship product STELLA is one of Dr. Gbele’s biggest accomplishments. STELLA, a satellite antenna system, works in low Earth orbit LEO (LEO) to offer competitive coverage across the globe with no dead zones in the electromagnetics wave illumination pattern, enabling multiple connections and tracking of LEO satellites simultaneously, using a lens antenna with a footprint as small as a golf ball. The compact size allows for less infrastructure and operation power required for an area to have access to high-speed internet. Additionally, the machine’s maintenance costs are significantly less because the antenna’s build has no moving parts and most importantly it has no complex electronics. Most impressively, the startup has found innovative ways to minimize the production costs of the technology itself, such as 3D printing STELLA’s lens antennas.
Beyond the STELLA antenna system, USAT’s R&D department is investigating new discoveries and pioneering ways to improve communication. Other products include the satellite module for LEO and handheld satellite communication devices.
USAT does not work alone. The recent NSF Innovation Corps (National I-Corps) Summer 2021 cohort program has promoted and extended USAT’s professional network through the multitude of contacts USAT made with marine business owners and members of NMEA (National Marine electronics Association). The company is currently working with established NMEA company members to target the underserved Satcom marine industry and promote global connectivity utilizing both satellite communication technology, and 5G mobile phone communication.
Recently, USAT won a pitch competition at IdeaFunding, one of Arizona’s largest startup conferences. The startup plans to use the money awarded to engage in customer discovery, business development, sales, and fundraising.
USAT is a part of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and works at the incubator housed at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road. USAT is working with UACI systematically through a 27-point roadmap. Beyond the UACI program, USAT has access to state-of-the-art equipment, mentorship, and a robust network of professionals. Dr. Gbele works alongside likeminded entrepreneurs in a fast-paced environment. This has enabled him to rapidly advance his prototype. The data bandwidth and the speed rate of the technology is expected to range from the gigabits/second to the terabits/second. The startup has a mid-term plan to develop a novel full ground terminal for satellite communications and an in-orbit advanced cubesat. Cubesat technology is the future of the Satcom industry and is expected to play determinant role in satellite communication using significantly less operation energy at 1/5 of the size of the currently used technology. USAT is working with various partners to make this technology readily available for people from all areas.
USAT is using never-seen-before technology to give disadvantaged communities access to the internet and global communications and providing a new, more efficient, way for the entire world to source their internet and communications, bringing people together and true their banner: “Satcom global Connectivity, We bring people together”. To learn more about US Air Tech http://usairtechcorp.com/