Carrier WiFi

Gogo Approved to Speed Up In-Flight WiFi

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."

For more on WiFi in the air and on the ground, visit the dedicated carrier WiFi content section here on Light Reading.

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, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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KBode 9/9/2015 | 5:32:22 PM
Re: In-flight Wi-Fi works great for me The chance to be disconnected is so rare for me these days, I'll gladly take the several-hour hit in exchange for some time with a good book. :)
kq4ym 9/7/2015 | 10:02:15 AM
Re: In-flight Wi-Fi works great for me It does seem that Gogo is in the right place to charge what they want for the service. And as I recall just a short time ago did in fact raise the fees. I'll still wait an hour and do my wifi on the ground.
Kruz 8/25/2015 | 2:44:32 PM
Re: WiFly woes While I tend to agree that it would be annoying, I beleive it is inevitable to have voice and video on board of a plane. It would be similar to the chit chats and maybe less annoying then babies continuously crying on an 10 hours flight. I beleive though that voice and video should be priced differently in order to prevent abuse. These will play a great role in case of any emergency on board of a plane.
Sarah Thomas 8/25/2015 | 12:05:08 PM
Re: WiFly woes I agree that connectivity is really important and worth a bit of a premium, especially since a lot of people using it will be expensing it. I don't want voice or video calling to be the norm though. There's enough annoying things on a plane without it!
Kruz 8/25/2015 | 10:24:48 AM
Re: WiFly woes I beleive users will be willing to pay a premium for a decent service, if priced fairly.

Connectivity on board of a plane is super useful, and should evole to cover anything from streaming, voice calling, video chatting. There are numerous use cases for all ages and user types wanting to access data on board of a plane.  
Sarah Thomas 8/25/2015 | 10:18:25 AM
Re: In-flight Wi-Fi works great for me Yeah, I was focused on the US. I've never had WiFi in an overseas flight nor between European countries. Who is the WiFi provider there? 
kq4ym 8/25/2015 | 8:21:56 AM
Re: WiFly woes Although I'm not a regular flyer, even with perfect wifi I don't think I'd elect to spend money on it for any reason. I certainly can wait a few hours to get connected on the ground. But, those business folks may very well find they can't wait and so Gogo will have a monopoly going there for any price they choose.
KBode 8/25/2015 | 7:54:50 AM
Re: In-flight Wi-Fi works great for me We had a lot of false starts here in the States (Boeing's "Connexion," etc.), but I imagine we'll catch up before long. Right now, about one in every four tims I try to use GoGo I wind up poorer and frustrated. I really do think a standard that brings 70-100 Mbps per plane should truly help things.
Susan Fourtané 8/25/2015 | 6:27:00 AM
Re: WiFly woes mendyk, speak for yourself. :) -Susan
Susan Fourtané 8/25/2015 | 6:22:07 AM
In-flight Wi-Fi works great for me Sarah, I assume you are referring to US airlines and US in-flight Wi-Fi providers only. The experience is different in Europe. In-flight Wi-Fi is perfect in a lot of planes, particularly in Norwegian aircrafts. They offer free, unlimited Wi-Fi during the entire flight in most of their destinations. Video streaming works well, too. The speed and connectivity are good and I have worked from a plane many times without any problem. The airline is not even expensive. They offer a real quality service. Once, recently, I flew a different airline just to promise to myself I wouldn't do that never again. Keeping their customers happy offering a great service and great in-flight free Wi-Fi is the best way of doing business.. -Susan
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