Gogo announced today that Virgin Atlantic will be its next major partner for the launch of its 2Ku inflight internet technology.
Virgin Atlantic will be the third carrier to incorporate the service behind Japanese carrier JAL and Mexican carrier AeroMéxico.
The technology, Gogo’s latest offering for high-speed inflight connectivity, boasts transfer speeds of up to 70MBs, or about seven times faster than the company’s fastest terrestrial ATG-4 network. It uses two “Ku” band connections to send and receive data directly between the aircraft and an orbiting satellite, alleviating the need for any ground-based communications.
Demand for satellite-based internet connectivity has grown dramatically over the last few years as US carriers finish populating their domestic liveries with terrestrial network solutions. Each of the legacy carriers is racing towards equipping 100% of its domestic mainline fleet, while boutique carriers such as Virgin America and Jetblue boast almost complete connectivity across their liveries. With 2Ku connectivity, Gogo hopes to capture a larger portion of the yet-equipped international and over-water market.
Despite the commitment from Virgin Atlantic, it will still be some time until passengers are able to connect inflight. According to a statement published today, “Gogo and Virgin Atlantic have agreed on principal terms and are currently working to finalize a definitive agreement.”
After the paperwork is filed, Gogo’s 2Ku hardware still needs to be finalized, tested and integrated into Virgin Atlantic’s 37-airplane fleet, and that’s after the launch partners at JAL and AeroMéxico are underway. While neither Gogo nor Virgin Atlantic will commit to a firm launch date, it’s safe to bet that installations won’t start until at least the middle of 2015.