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Coming Soon: New Wi-Fi Pods to Provide Internet Access for Full Duration of Flights

Potentially exciting news for frequent flyers was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with the unveiling of a new aircraft antenna design that could forever put an end to annoying gaps in in-flight Wi-Fi access.

The brain trust at the U.S. communications firm Gogo, a longtime leader in bringing wireless Internet access to passenger planes, believes that it may have permanently solved the problem of dropped Internet service on long-haul flights. The company revealed a new antenna design at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that could mean that passengers will have access to Wi-Fi from takeoff to landing, even if flights are crossing oceans or passing through remote corners of the globe.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the new system known as “2Ku” will rely on satellites to provide super-fast Internet service rather than the ground-based system more commonly offered on today’s commercial planes. Currently, most in-flight Internet service offered to passengers is transmitted through the antenna on the underside of aircraft, communicating directly with the ground. This system works well enough over developed areas but causes problems when the flight is flying over a remote area or a large body of water.

In addition to offering Internet services seamlessly throughout even the longest flight, Gogo company officials say the 2Ku will provide much faster service than anything else available in flight right now. Engineers testing the new system were successfully able to simultaneously stream videos on 40 separate devices in-flight.

“Gogo has a big advantage in that we aren’t tied to any one particular technology. We looked at every available alternative on the market and found significant shortfalls with all of them,” CEO Michael Small said in a statement announcing the new cutting edge technology. “So what did we do? We designed 2Ku to deliver peak performance in terms of coverage, cost, capacity and reliability without any of these shortfalls.”

The 2Ku system relies on a network of over 180 satellites and was extensively tested on a series of flights using a company-owned Boeing 737. Gogo says it has reached agreements with 12 airlines around the world and will begin installing the system in aircraft starting this year.

The 2Ku isn’t without its drawbacks. Officials admit that the antenna design, which is somewhat bulky by aviation standards, will cause a loss of some aerodynamic efficiency and therefore create slightly higher fuel costs for airlines. Aircraft will also need to be taken out of service for the estimated two days it will take to install the new antenna and communications system.

[Photo: Gogo]

Comments are Closed.
viajero boricua January 10, 2016

Not counting what competitive satellite-based systems to Gogo already offer, the prospect that you could only provide video streaming to 40 devices on a 140-200 passenger plane on a system that would make airliners less fuel-efficient does mean they still have work to do... Imagine only 40 "adequate wifi spots" on any long-haul 250+ passenger airliner, less forbid a 380-class Airbus...

WillTravel4Food January 9, 2016

So they're bragging because they've caught up with their competition (T-Mobile)? The AA B77W fleet has had satellite based wifi for sometime now. Last year it was $20US JFK-LHR. That's cheaper than what I've paid for Gogo on domestic ground-based service.

sdsearch January 9, 2016

"Creates higher fuel cost for airlines"! Will airlines cheerfully accept this, or will they say "not worth it"? Airlines want to reduce cost, not increase it.

AlwaysFlyStar January 9, 2016

What makes this different from other satellite internet services that most carriers with wifi already have?

BJM January 8, 2016

Because heaven forbid we have gaps in our internet connectivity!