In-flight Wi-Fi is one of those strange technologies. On one hand, it feels like the future. Being able to get online while cruising at 500MPH+, some 35,000 feet in the air, is truly venturing into Jetsons territory. But on the other hand, paying $12+ per session, and barely being able to load your e-mail, is a really frustrating experience. As Gogo's services have become more popular, and used by more and more people on planes, the overall speed has slumped. These days, it's more of a frustration than anything else when it comes to getting actual work done on an airplane Wi-Fi connection.
Clearly, Gogo knows that current speeds aren't acceptable for the future. With other rivals looking to satellite-based alternatives, which can provide service over the open seas, Gogo has this week launched a next-gen in-air connectivity solution that'll hopefully bridge the gap. It's called ATG-4, and it's expected to improve capacity to the plane. Three major U.S. airlines are taking part so far in the upgrade, with those three being Delta, US Airways and Virgin America. Currently, Gogo has installed the service on more than 25 domestic aircraft. Virgin America was the first airline to install the new technology and currently plans to roll out the service on more aircraft in the months ahead. In addition to Delta Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America, Gogo is expected to launch ATG-4 service on American Airlines and United's p.s. fleet in 2013.
Gogo's ATG-4 technology is capable of delivering a peak speed of 9.8 Mbps, triple the peak speed of 3.1 Mbps enabled by the previous air-to-ground network. The new technology includes three industry-leading innovations: the addition of directional antennas and dual modems on each aircraft and the deployment of EV-DO Rev. B technology on Gogo's airborne and ground networks. Gogo expects to roll out ATG-4 at a rapid pace, with hundreds of aircraft installations planned before the end of 2013. Aircraft installations of the new technology will typically take place overnight and will require the installation of two antennas, one on each side of the aircraft, installation of a second modem and a software upgrade. Gogo's more than 150 land based cellular towers have already been modified for the new technology.
This won't change the game when it comes to in-flight Wi-Fi, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Too bad all images will still render (and even upload) as compressed, and yes, all video streaming solutions will still be blocked -- not to mention VoIP services.