Aircell Announces Next-Gen In-Flight Wi-Fi Plans: Speed And Expansion

If we had to name one technology innovation of the past 10 years as one that really stood out, it would probably be in-flight Internet. Or, at least it would be in the Top 5. It's a technology that many thought we'd never see in our lifetimes, and it's here today. It isn't everywhere; it isn't on every plane. But airlines know that it's an important thing to have, and they're rolling it out continually. Aircell's Gogo service has become the de facto service out there, and while the company should be proud of what they have been able to accomplish thus far, there's always more. There's always a desire for more speed, more availability and more capacity.

In a bid to make an even faster in-flight Wi-Fi experience available, they have just announced a new technology roadmap that will include EV-DO Rev B in 2012 as well as global satellite coverage by 2015. Those are really, really ambitious plans, and plans that are highly desirable to hear about. The next generation version of of ATG ("ATG-4") as well as Ka-band satellite technology will eventually be selectable at the aircraft or fleet level and enable attractive solutions for every airline, aircraft and mission.

Specific details on the rollout are listed below, but the promise of faster connections and availability worldwide is just huge. Imagine being able to fly anywhere and have Internet access the whole way. Couple that with in-seat power plugs, and the time of a painful intercontinental flight shrinks to almost nothing.

Aircell Announces Technology Roadmap

ITASCA, Ill., March 9, 2011 – Aircell, the world's leading provider of inflight connectivity, today unveiled an expanded technology roadmap for the delivery of its revolutionary and widely deployed Gogo® Inflight Internet service. In addition to Aircell's existing and highly successful Air-to-Ground (ATG) technology, the company will enable connectivity via a next generation version of ATG ("ATG-4") as well as Ka-band satellite technology. These technology options will be selectable at the aircraft or fleet level and enable attractive solutions for every airline, aircraft and mission.

"Between business and commercial aviation, there are currently more than 6,000 Aircell-equipped aircraft across ATG and satellite technology platforms," said Michael Small, President and CEO of Aircell. "We're thrilled to be the only inflight connectivity provider that can meet our partners' full fleet needs in the United States today. With this announcement we strengthen our offerings domestically and begin to extend our leadership globally."

The suite of technologies powering Gogo® Inflight Internet will consist of the following:

Air-to-Ground (ATG): With a proven track record of performance, reliability and scalability, Aircell's ATG-based service will continue to provide a rich user experience for connected travelers by featuring 3G wireless utilizing EV-DO Rev. A.
ATG-4: Aircell's ATG-4 service will significantly enhance the existing ATG network and improve per aircraft capacity by approximately four times current performance through the addition of Directional Antenna, Dual Modem and EV-DO Rev. B technologies. ATG-4 is scheduled for commercial delivery beginning in the first half of 2012. This new platform is backwards compatible and allows for upgrades to existing ATG systems through low cost retrofits.
Ka-band satellite: Aircell's Ka-band satellite technology will provide additional capacity to supplement what is available through ATG, ATG-4 and current generation satellite technology, as well as enable Gogo service beyond the continental United States (CONUS). Based on satellite launch and antenna development schedules, Aircell expects its Ka-band technology to be available for CONUS in 2013 and globally by 2015. Aircell expects many aircraft to take advantage of its unique and proprietary ability to integrate air-to-ground solutions with satellite solutions for better performance, enhanced features and higher reliability.

By offering multiple technology platforms, Aircell is the only provider able to meet the needs of any aircraft and its mission. ATG's combination of low cost, small equipment footprint and high performance will continue to delight travelers in the future. At the same time, many larger aircraft with higher capacity needs will benefit from the improvements enabled by ATG-4, again at a low cost and with a smaller equipment footprint as compared to satellite solutions. Aircraft with missions beyond CONUS will benefit from the geographic flexibility a satellite solution provides. In advance of the global availability of Ka-based satellite service, Aircell can provide a Ku-based satellite solution for the international needs of its airline partners.

For commercial airlines, Aircell's technology roadmap will allow airlines to select the technology that best suits particular aircraft at a particular time, and to easily upgrade from one Aircell platform to another. In addition, all Aircell network technologies will utilize its enormous advantage in proprietary "know how" (including over 30 US and international patents for its inflight connectivity solutions), and will leverage its world-class systems for technical monitoring and support, customer care and billing.

In the business aviation market, Aircell currently offers three different inflight technologies, including Iridium Satellite, Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (satellite) and Gogo Biz™ (ATG). Specific details about ATG-4 and Ka-band Satellite technologies for the business aviation market will be released in the coming months.
Tags:  Gogo, Aircell