Airline passengers may soon have improved in-flight wireless connectivity. Gogo GTO, or Ground to Orbit, aims to deliver more than 60 Mb/s wireless connectivity to users on an aircraft, combining existing satellite technologies with Gogo’s Air to Ground (ATG) cellular network. Gogo has partnered with airline Virgin America, with the service expected to be available by the second half of 2014.
The technology will use the satellites for receive-only (transmission to the plane) operation and the ATG network for the return link (transmission to the ground). GTO promises a 20-fold increase in speeds from Gogo’s first in-flight Internet service that delivered speeds to 3.1 Mb/s. The system utilizes a Ku-band antenna, especially designed for receive-only functionality. The design differs from existing two-way satellite aviation antennas with transmission power limited to minimize interference with other satellites (and therefore making it inefficient and expensive). Gogo’s receive-only antenna will be two times more spectrally efficient and half the height of previously used antennas, resulting in less drag and subsequently less fuel burn.
The new antenna is also capable of leveraging a number of current and future of Ku band satellites, including spot beam Ku-band satellites. This will enable Gogo to take advantage of new satellite technologies without having to install new antennas. The use of multiple satellites also avoids reliance on a single satellite, providing a stronger and more reliable network.