Gogo and AeroSat get friendly on Ku-band, bring international in-flight WiFi closer

Gogo has a virtual lock on in-flight WiFi for the US, but most of us forget that everything goes dark the moment you decide to cross the border. The company already has a deal with Inmarsat for Ka-band Internet connections, and now it's partnering up with AeroSat to bring Ku-band satellite access. The tie-in will let Gogo offer precious relief from tedium on international flights, whether it's a modest hop to the Great White North or an hours-long trip across the ocean. Gogo considers the deal an interim step until Inmarsat's technology is ready, making for much quicker availability than if it had just waited until it could use Ka-band: Ku-band satellite linkups should be on airliners as soon as the end of 2012, while Ka-band won't even show its face until at least late 2014. It's unknown what kind of premium we'll pay over the $13 maximum Gogo normally charges, but if AeroSat lets us squeak in a few more Twitter updates on our way home from Barcelona, it'll be worthwhile.

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Gogo Partners with AeroSat to Bring Ku-Satellite Service to Market

ITASCA, Ill., May 18, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Gogo, a leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions, announced today that it will partner with satellite equipment provider, AeroSat, to bring a Ku-satellite solution to commercial airlines. A Ku-satellite solution will allow Gogo to offer airlines connectivity services that extend beyond the United States, including transoceanic routes, and will serve the needs of some of our airlines partners in the near-term until Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka-satellite service becomes available.

"As a company, Gogo has always considered itself technology neutral. Our goal is to provide the right technology to meet the connectivity needs of any aircraft size and any aircraft mission," said Gogo's president and CEO Michael Small. "By adding a Ku-based offering, we will be qualified to offer our airline partners a wide range of technology solutions. Whether it's by using our exclusive air to ground and ATG-4 technologies, Ku-satellite or, in the near future, Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka-satellite technologies, we expect to be able to service all aircraft."

AeroSat will deliver the Ku-satellite antenna, radome, antenna control and modem unit and high power transceiver to Gogo. The AeroSat equipment will be coupled with Gogo's onboard hardware and software (server and access points) to deliver a complete solution to the airlines. The components have already been developed and are currently going through the airworthiness qualification and certification process. Gogo expects to be able to install the Ku-systems on commercial aircraft as soon as the fourth quarter of 2012.

"Ku is the here and now satellite technology and will allow us to service airline clients who want an overseas solution today," added Small. "However, in many cases we see this as a bridge technology that will allow us to offer overseas service until Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka satellite service is available."

"AeroSat has been a proven leader in the development of aviation communications solutions for more than a decade and we are delighted to work with Gogo on addressing their equipment needs as they bring a Ku-satellite solution to market," said AeroSat CEO, Dennis Ferguson. "AeroSat now has developed antenna systems for more than 380 corporate and commercial aircraft operating in every region of the world using multiple commercial satellites."

Gogo also recently announced that it will be one of two global service providers of Inmarsat's Global Xpress(TM) Ka-satellite service. Working with Inmarsat, Gogo expects to begin testing of the Global Xpress Ka-aeronautical services after the launch of the first of the three Inmarsat-5 satellites, which is scheduled for mid-2013. Gogo expects to offer Global Xpress Ka-satellite service after the launch of all three I-5 satellites starting in late 2014 or early 2015.