American Airlines Attempting to Replace Gogo With ViaSat

Feb 16, 2016

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Update: Gogo announced that American Airlines has dropped its lawsuit.

While American Airlines isn’t buying any goodwill with passengers on the loyalty program front, it is, however, investing in its in-flight product. First, the airline announced the installation of new seats and now, it’s looking to vastly improve its in-flight Wi-Fi.

When Gogo first launched its Wi-Fi product, many airlines, including AA, jumped on the chance to install the reasonably inexpensive product that would keep them competitive with other carriers. However, those who fly often know that Gogo’s current in-flight Wi-Fi product is mediocre, at best. It’s troubling to fly and not know whether you’ll have a steady and reliable internet connection.

So American is doing something about it. According to a Star-Telegram report, the carrier filed a lawsuit against Gogo, its current internet service provider, on the grounds that it essentially found a service that is faster. According to the contract between the two companies, American is allowed to leave if it finds a better service, which it claims it has — good news for AA flyers.

Coincidentally, as I was writing this, I was on an AA flight as part of my month-long OneGo journey — and the Wi-Fi lived up to its terrible reputation. I researched this post using Gogo Wi-Fi — it’s understandable why AA wants to replace it.

How satellite Wi-Fi systems work. Image courtesy of OnAir.
Satellite-based Wi-Fi. Image courtesy of OnAir.

The new product that’s faster than Gogo, offered by ViaSat, is currently installed on United Airlines, JetBlue and Virgin America aircraft. Whereas American uses Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) system on about 200 of its aircraft, it plans to switch to ViaSat, which offers satellite-based Ka-Band Wi-Fi service that’s much faster than its ATG counterpart. Gogo plans to submit a competing proposal to AA featuring its own satellite technology, called 2Ku.

The satellite technology uses an antenna that faces up to the sky, rather than transmitters on the belly of an aircraft that pick up signals from land-based cell towers. On top of much faster service, satellite Wi-Fi keeps passengers connected when flying out of range of ground-based towers — including over the ocean.

AA didn’t settle for poor quality when it comes to seats and now it’s not going to settle with its Wi-Fi either. By taking steps toward a better in-flight experience for passengers, the carrier is attempting to make up for any ground lost as far as its recently announced AAdvantage devaluation goes.

H/T: Star-Telegram

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