In-flight WiFi provider Gogo has received FAA approval to launch its "2Ku next-generation satellite connectivity service" that it says will provide 20 times more bandwidth than its current in-flight WiFi.
Gogo announced it has received Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval, in the form of a final Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), to launch service on Monday. It says this latest technology will provide peak speeds of more than 70 Mbps, a 20x improvement over its current system.
The catch is that it will require new 2Ku hardware on planes to take advantage of it. Gogo says that it's currently installed in its own test plane and will launch commercially in 2016 on seven commercial airlines spanning 500 aircrafts.
"We believe this will be the best performing technology for the global commercial aviation market bar none," Gogo CTO Anand Chari said in a statement. "Clearing this regulatory hurdle brings us one step closer to enabling our airline partners and their passengers to enjoy the future of in-flight Internet."
In-flight WiFi has become an essential offering for airlines, and Gogo has rapidly become the dominant name in the air. It partners with most of the major wireless operators, including offering free in-flight texting for T-Mobile US Inc. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said last year it would launch its own Gogo-competitor, but later decided to curtail its efforts to focus on its other network investments. (See AT&T Working On In-Flight LTE and AT&T's In-Flight WiFi Plans Won't Take Off.)
While in-flight WiFi has been around for years now, it is far from perfect -- or even adequate in a lot of planes. Video streaming isn't even allowed on most, but even basic web browsing can be a headache. It can also be expensive -- Gogo's prices range from $5 for an hour to $60 for unlimited monthly use. (See Study: 200M People Will Fly With Wi-Fi in 2011 and Biz Travelers Hi on WiFi.)
With 20x more bandwidth, Gogo's 2Ku should significantly improve the experience and perhaps enable it to lower prices and support more users.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading