USA gears up for inflight broadband with Gogo 2Ku satellite tech

By David Flynn, November 23 2015
USA gears up for inflight broadband with Gogo 2Ku satellite tech

Domestic US flights will soon have faster Internet connections than most homes in Australia, when inflight tech provider Gogo flicks the switch on its new broadband satellite service.

Virgin Australia partner Delta will roll out Gogo's advanced '2Ku' hardware across some 250 aircraft from early 2016, with 70Mbps and eventually 100Mbps of bandwidth available to each jet.

That fat pipeline will be shared between passengers, however, bringing per-seat speed back to perhaps 5Mbps depending on how many people are logged on.

Pricing is expected to be pitched above the rates currently charged for Gogo's slower air-to-ground network which begins at US$5 per hour, with US$16 for an entire flight or US$50 for a one-month pass.

Gogo 2Ku works with high-speed Ku band satellites – such as Inmarsat's growing GlobalXpress constellation, and potentially Australia's own NBN SkyMuster birds – but with two dome-encased antenna per aircraft: one dedicated for downloading, the other for uploading.

Trials conducted last week saw 6-8Mbps on the downlink, although upload speeds remained pegged below 0.5Mbps.

That's definitely sufficient to eclipse basis web browsing, emails and the obligatory social media selfie at 40,000 feet, and move into the realm of smooth streaming content from the likes of Netflix and Spotify.

"People will be relentless for more bandwidth" admits Gogo CEO Michael Small.

Also read: Qantas rethinks inflight Internet for Airbus A380, domestic routes

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Interestingly, whilst I've not found lower 48 Gogo service to be terribly lacking, this might actually mean something usable when going offshore on domestic flights, for example to HNL or SJU or ANC, as they're not land based towers.

I've been able to get Gogo on AA flights for about 1/2 hour out over the ocean ex LAX and about the same ex MIA heading east to San Juan. Nice addition for people that use it. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 682

Good review David.

In addition, JetBlue is also offering a competing satellite-based product called 'Fly-Fi' which is free onboard their aircraft.

For an excellent discussion of satellite-based airline systems, the following link may be of some interest to most readers:

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Dec 2015

Total posts 9

FYI - Both Global Xpress and NBN Skymuster are Ka band - not Ku, and so don't come into this equation at all. 2Ku actually came about because Gogo do not believe Ka to be as good a bet as the existing Ku infrastructure in the short/medium term. 

The Gogo 2Ku proposition is certainly looking good for the next 10-15 years due to the use of separate up/downlink antennae, and (soon) a new higher throughput modem.

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