Air Travel News
Delta will use Gogo to provide international in-flight Wi-Fi
By focusing its technology on ground-based transmissions, Gogo got an early jump on providing in-flight Wi-Fi service, winning contracts with several major U.S. airlines; meanwhile, competitors using satellite-based technology – like Panasonic and Row 44 – have taken the lead in providing intercontinental Wi-Fi service for international carriers’ transoceanic flights. But now Gogo is rushing to catch up – and Delta is already on board.
Delta said it will begin offering Gogo’s in-flight Internet service early next year on its international long-haul fleet, including 777s, 767s, 747s, Airbus A330s and some 757s. Delta’s mainline domestic fleet of 550 planes already has Gogo service.
For all kinds of reasons, an airline would obviously prefer to stick with one vendor for all its in-flight Wi-Fi, a fact that had put Gogo’s major U.S. customers – including Delta, American and US Airways -- in a tough spot as foreign carriers like Lufthansa, Qantas and Japan Airlines start to roll out the amenity on their long-haul flights. So they’re probably all delighted to learn that Gogo will now offer a comparable product.
United, which has been offering Gogo service only on its p.s. transcontinental flights, announced last fall that it would turn to Panasonic Avionics Corp. to install satellite-based Wi-Fi on more than 300 aircraft, including its long-haul international wide-bodies, to become available starting later this year.
Gogo, based in Itasca, Ill., has secured $135 million in financing to develop its international satellite-based Wi-Fi technology, and the company has announced some new partnerships to make that happen, with the goal of having an over-water capability as early as the fourth quarter of 2012. The satellite option could also extend Gogo’s market to foreign airlines.
In May, Gogo signed a partnership deal with AeroSat, a satellite equipment provider, for hardware like antennas, modems and transceivers; and last month, the company entered into a memorandum of understanding with Europe’s SES, which controls a collection of 50 geostationary satellites all around the planet.
Gogo said it plans initially to offer Ku-band satellite connectivity – the kind offered by SES – and eventually transition to Ka-satellite service provided by Inmarsat’s Global Express.
“Gogo expects to use this technology to offer airlines connectivity services on international fleets flying transatlantic routes, as well as regional fleets flying within Europe and the United States,” a spokesman said. “Gogo is actively working with SES and other operators to expand that coverage globally…The components have already been developed and are currently going through the airworthiness qualification and certification process.”