A Gogo Look Ahead- Part 2, and Some Other News!

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In the last issue we noted Gogo, the inflight connectivity company, recently provided IFExpress a glimpse of the technology they plan to implement within a broad spectrum of aircraft connectivity options in the future, worldwide. (You might also check out a total airline connectivity market review article by Ed Perkins in AirFareWatchdog a few days ago.)

As we noted last time, Gogo, on an installation basis, is far and away the world leader of in-air connectivity with over 6000 (commercial and business) aircraft equipped with the company’s services across its ATG and satellite technology platforms, and located over mostly North American soil today. This number includes business jets; however, both Panasonic (“2000 committed aircraft with just over 460 installations”) and Row44 (“more than 550” installations worldwide), OnAir, Thales, and others are working diligently to get their gear installed as well.

With some 900 airlines (reference: Boeing Current Market Outlook) and over 20,000 jet airplanes in service, there is more work to do and as we previously mentioned, there is a future 20-year projected demand for 35,280 new jet airplanes. Needless to say, the market will grow based on numbers alone. But inside the plane, as bandwidth goes up and more users sign on, the services will have to simply provide more bandwidth if airlines and service providers are to grow their service business and appease customers appetite for faster connections and lower prices. We should point out that bandwidth availability is roughly a function of the transmitted frequency of the sources used for connectivity. Yes, multiple antennas and multiple transmitters can, of course, increase the received data on each plane. But, in general, providers like Gogo are reaching for transmitted frequency increases like those used in satellite communication. Not only are they the solution for over-water connectivity, they use microwave frequencies that are higher, and thus contain more data bandwidth. This rough relationship explains why UHF (cell tower frequencies around 850 MHz which are today’s Gogo service frequencies) is less favored today, and thus explains the shift to Ku and Ka bands that operate at much higher frequencies. Ku band operates at  12 to 18 GHz, with a factor of 20 times the bandwidth, or more; and Ka band frequencies operates at  26.5 to 40 GHz, with a factor of roughly 50 times more bandwidth, or more. Information increase can actually be way better than that, but we won’t go into modulation schemes here. We also note that frequency interference is also a big deal and will not be covered either… but it is a daunting problem! Currently, Ka band might be a limit in the upper frequencies for radio transmission that go to the ground as weather (moisture droplets) in clouds and such limit signal paths and cause attenuation.

Back to the Gogo future: If you refer to the rectangular image in our masthead, sometimes called the “Gogo Ecosystem”, it shows the complete frequency future for Gogo’s planned bandwidth growth and that should tell you what the company is planning in the way of service increases. Don’t forget, Gogo is a service/system provider and much of their advanced hardware like antennas and receivers are made by other, independent manufacturers like ThinKom and AeroSat – check below. Additionally, some of the following service offerings cover North America (ground-to-air primarily) and much of the rest of the world use satcom-based service offerings.

SBB – Swift Broadband/L Band
The signal will be detected by an antenna on the top of the hull and will be a low speed, vertical L-Band antenna mounted on the top of the airplane (Biz Aviation).

Air-to-Ground (ATG)
With a proven track record of performance, reliability, and scalability, Gogo’s ATG-based service will continue to provide a rich user experience for connected travelers by featuring 3G wireless utilizing EV-DO Rev. A. Service is via an aircraft-to-ground, bottom mounted, standard VHF band blade antenna.

ATG-4
Gogo’s ATG-4 service will significantly enhance the existing ATG network and improve per aircraft capacity through the addition of a Directional Antenna, Dual Modem and EV-DO Rev. B technologies. This new platform is backward-compatible and allows for upgrades to existing ATG systems through low-cost retrofits. The antenna is a Modified VHF Band Blade Antenna mounted on the bottom of the hull and is larger than standard VHF antenna.

Ku-band Satellite
Gogo announced in May 2012, that it will partner with satellite equipment provider, AeroSat, to bring a Ku-satellite solution to commercial airlines. A Ku-satellite solution will allow Gogo to offer airlines connectivity services that extend beyond the United States, including transoceanic routes, and will serve the needs of some of our airlines partners in the near-term until Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-satellite service becomes available. Honeywell supplies the antenna and uses a new AeroSat Ka band “small” tracking antenna.

Ka-band Satellite
Gogo was named a service provider for Inmarsat’s Global XpressTM satellite service in November 2011. Inmarsat has also selected Gogo’s business aviation subsidiary, Aircell (Biz Aviation), as a distribution partner for the business and government aviation markets.

Gogo Ground to Orbit (GTO)
Ground to Orbit is a proprietary hybrid technology that combines the best aspects of existing satellite technologies with Gogo’s Air to Ground network. This technology uses a satellite for receive, only, and Gogo’s Air-to-Ground network for the return link to the ground. Gogo GTO offers peak speeds of 60 Mbps or more to aircraft flying throughout North America and will be available in 2014. This requires an ATG-4 antenna on the hull bottom for land reception and a low profile Thinkom phased array antenna on the top of the fuselage. Think of GTO as the same performance as 2Ku, it’s just set up for North American operations and leverages ATG-4 for the return link to the ground instead of the second phased array satcom antenna. There are several operational benefits to using ATG-4 for the return link – namely a little bit of weight savings and delay (latency). Because satcom connections suffer from latency of some 800 milliseconds a ground return is much faster, while aircraft-to-ground data usage is about one tenth of that (or less) going the other way. GTO IMAGE

2Ku
Gogo’s newest service relies on new low profile, high efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas. 2Ku will offer peak speeds of 70 Mbps or more to aircraft flying around the globe and will be available in mid-2015. This new technology will utilize the same low-profile antennas as Gogo’s Ground to Orbit (GTO) technology, which will be deployed for aircraft flying in North America; however, instead of utilizing Gogo’s Air to Ground solution for the return link to the ground, 2Ku will have two low-profile, high efficiency, ThinKom Ku band satellite antennas. The new technology will deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of more than 70 Mbps.

Lastly, we should note two additional items – Gogo now has Text & Talk features available via an Android and iOS App but we should mention that as of today, the airlines have not chosen the “Talk” part… but that’s probably coming. Secondly, the headquarters are moving from Itasca, Illinois to downtown Chicago… on or near the Chicago River where every St. Patrick’s Day the river is dyed green, the color of money!

More News…
Here are some images of that Montana train derailment of Boeing B737 fuselages that will bring tears to your aviation loving eyes! You may not have seen a few of these and it sure makes an argument for manufacturing them in Washington.

Say goodbye to Karin Pellmann, one of the best Communication/PR person in the business, who moves on from Global Eagle to bigger and better things with a new account! Good Luck Karin!

Wanna see something cool? Here’s a cockpit mockup from Rockwell Collins of a B757/767 with new 15.1 inch displays – designed for fleet commonality with B787 and B737NEO’s.

Condolences – Gary Vanyek, Thales, passed away recently – Service Information Visitation, Saturday, July 12, 2014 11:00am – 2:00pm. Peek Funeral Home, 7801 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683 (714 893-3525).

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