Inflight internet provider Gogo announced plans to bring 5G data service to the North American market starting in 2021. The new 5G air-to-ground (ATG) service is designed to power faster inflight Wi-Fi for business jets and turboprops as well as airline customers in the United States and Canada even on smaller regional jets.
Gogo says it will install the 5G network hardware on the 250 existing towers used today to provide ATG services to airline and bizav customers.
“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.”
The 5G connection will be delivered to aircraft via a combination of unlicensed 2.4-GHz spectrum, a proprietary modem sold by Gogo, and advanced beamforming technology. The company says it will support “all spectrum types (licensed, shared, unlicensed) and bands (mid, high, low)” in a bid to future-proof Gogo’s ability to increase speeds and bandwidth capabilities as 5G technology matures.
Aircraft equipped with the 5G capability will still be able to use Gogo’s 3G and 4G connections as a backup. Gogo touts the 5G service as a lower-cost alternative to satellite internet.
The company’s most popular data connectivity option for smaller business aircraft is the Avance L3 unit, which is now a line-fit option on the Pilatus PC-12NG and is coming to the HondaJet soon as well.
Priced from around $30,000 plus installation cost, the Avance L3 ATG system provides passengers with inflight Internet access, Gogo text and talk access over their personal smartphones, Bloomberg news, weather, inflight map and the option to watch hundreds of popular TV shows and movies, which are stored on the unit’s hard drive so there’s no additional cost to stream the entertainment content.
Current internet speed is similar to what you’ve probably experienced on airliner flights, with transfer rates of about 2 mbps, or over 3 mbps if you sign up for the optional Gogo Max service. A bundled package is available for $99 an hour, providing connectivity for up to 10 users simultaneously or as many as 25 with the Max option. Users can expect to see a dramatic improvement in data speeds after Gogo launches its nationwide 5G service.