Virgin Atlantic picks Gogo for in-flight connectivity

The underlying technology is scheduled to be launched in the middle of next year

2Ku systems will have two low-profile, high efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas. 

2Ku systems will have two low-profile, high efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas. 

Gogo will offer in-flight connectivity with speeds at up to 70Mbps on Virgin Atlantic's aircraft, once a deal between the two companies is concluded.

They have agreed on principal terms and are currently working to finalize a definitive agreement, Gogo said. Under the agreement, all of Virgin Atlantic's existing fleet is expected to be retrofitted with Gogo's 2Ku technology, which is scheduled to be launched in the middle of next year.

The antennas Virgin Atlantic will use are approximately two times more spectrally efficient than other antennas in the commercial aviation market, which lowers the cost, Gogo said earlier this year when the technology was announced. The antenna is also smaller, which helps reduce drag.

The 70Mbps that 2Ku can deliver is a big improvement over the 3.1Mbps Gogo was able to offer when it got started about five years ago. The company is also working on an upgrade to 100Mbps, which will be possible thanks to so-called spot-beam satellites. They improve performance by concentrating their power output, but that also means they cover a smaller area.

September has been a good month for Gogo. Virgin Atlantic is the first European airline to partner with the company, and it has also announced deals with Vietnam Airlines and T-Mobile.

Starting Wednesday, T-Mobile subscribers can take advantage of free in-flight texting and voicemail on more than 2,000 commercial aircraft flying in the U.S., according to Gogo. To access the services, subscribers will need a Wi-Fi Calling-enabled phone in airplane mode connected to Gogo's Wi-Fi.

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