Gogo readies fast inflight WiFi available first on Virgin America flights

by David Needle

September 11 2013

Gogo, the high-flying (pun intended) provider of Internet services to airlines, has announced a new service called Gogo GTO (Ground to Orbit) that is says is capable of offering up to 60Mbps speeds or six times the current offering. 

The proprietary hybrid technology will use satellite for receive only (transmission to the plane) and Gogo's Air to Ground network for the return link (transmission to the ground). 

Existing two-way satellite antennas in the commercial aviation market have limited power for transmissions so they don't interfere with other satellites. But Gogo says it will be utilizing a Ku antenna developed specifically for receive only functionality. “The advantages of using satellite for reception only and Gogo's ATG Network for the return link are unprecedented,” the company said in a release.

While this all sounds like good news for tablet-toting travelers, you’ll have to wait a while to use the service. Gogo GTO is set to launch on Virgin America flights sometime in the second half of 2014.

"When we launched our in-flight Internet service five years ago, we were able to deliver 3.1 Mbps per aircraft through our Air to Ground network," said Gogo president and CEO Michael Small. “About a year ago, we began rapidly deploying our next generation Air to Ground service that took peak speeds to 9.8 Mbps. GTO will now take peak speeds to more than 60 Mbps. That's a 20-fold increase from where we started.

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