In-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo is building a 5G network across the US and Canada, giving passengers access to faster speeds and lower latency connectivity while in the air.
Gogo will upgrade its existing Air-to-Ground (ATG) network, which comprises more than 250 towers across North America, and use unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4GHz band. The company will also use a proprietary modem and beamforming technology to improve the quality of the signal.
ATG networks offer a number of advantages over in-flight satellite technology, including lower operational costs and lower latency.
- What is 5G? Everything you need to know (opens in new tab)
- 5G: How will businesses benefit? (opens in new tab)
- Huawei agrees 40 5G contracts (opens in new tab)
Gogo says its 5G network will support licenced, shared, and unlicensed spectrum in all bands used for 5G services. This is essential for a service that will attract users from around the world as the first European 5G networks will use sub-6GHz spectrum while the first US 5G networks will use millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequencies.
The company will continue top operate its 3G and 4G networks in North America in order to provide a backup service and says the 5G network can be upgraded with future technologies as and when they become available.
"We expect to launch Gogo 5G at the same time as the terrestrial telecommunications companies are deploying the same generation of technology on the ground – a first in the inflight connectivity industry," said Oakleigh Thorne, CEO of Gogo.
"Gogo 5G is the next step in our technology evolution and is expected to deliver an unparalleled user experience, pairing high performance with low latency and network-wide redundancy."
Gogo also operates a satellite broadband service for carriers outside North America. It says its ‘2Ku’ system is a key differentiator in the race to connect the world’s skies, as its antenna can swing round to find the best signal. It says new satellite technologies are a far cry from traditional setups, which are characterised by slow speeds and high latency.