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.

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

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).

United Kingdom | May 21, 2014– 328 Design, part of The 328 Group, the Germany-based refurbishment, completions and maintenance aviation specialist, has secured the world‘s first certification of a four-channel Swift Broadband upgrade aboard an Embraer Legacy 600. Installation was completed by customer ABS JETS, following the recent award of EASA certification with FAA and TCCA validation.

Wessling-based 328 Design, overseen by Jőrg Gorkenant, COO, Head of Design for 328, co-operated with ALAMO Engineering GmbH on the development side of aircraft modification and engineering support. Together they performed system configuration and post-installation tests ahead of hand-over to ABS, an Embraer Authorized Service Centre, based in Prague.

The modification included the supply of EMTEQ’s eConnect Wi-Fi Router and Satcom1 AvioIP communication software, which enables a range of advanced communication features provided by Swift Broadband. These include User Management providing VIP and Guests‘ with service profiles to manage data bandwidth; Data compression and acceleration; Dual X-Stream ch12annel aggregation with a guaranteed data speed rate up to 800Kbps; inflight Smartphone voice communication and Audio/Video On Demand WiFi streaming to the passengers’ own mobile devices.

Dave Jackson, Managing Director of 328 comments: “The Swift Broadband certification on the first Legacy 600 demonstrates our Group’s growing capabilities on certification work, where an increasing number of operators and suppliers are contacting us for our expertise.”

November 29, 2011 — Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today announced the selection of Gogo as its partner to bring Inmarsat’s Global Xpress™ satellite service to the commercial airline market. Gogo will be a service provider, distributing Global Xpress service to the global commercial aviation market. Inmarsat has also selected Gogo’s business aviation subsidiary, Aircell, as a distribution partner for the business and government aviation markets.

“With Gogo onboard as a service provider, we’ve rounded out our team to deliver Global Xpress to the commercial aviation market, starting in 2013,” said Leo Mondale, Managing Director of Inmarsat GX. “The superior performance and economics of Global Xpress versus any other satellite solution in the aviation marketplace uniquely position us to support passenger connectivity across commercial and business aviation markets, on a sustainable basis. The combination of the Inmarsat Ka- and L-band satellite technologies with Gogo’s air-to-ground service will support adoption of superior connectivity solutions across entire airline fleets in a way that really makes sense. We see a major commercial opportunity for Global Xpress in aviation services, which will in turn support the future growth of Inmarsat.”

Working with Inmarsat, Gogo will begin in-flight testing of the Global Xpress aeronautical services after the launch of the first Inmarsat-5 satellite, which is scheduled for mid-2013. Gogo plans to offer regional service in 2013 with services for air transport, business aviation and government customers expected worldwide later in 2014.

Inmarsat’s Global Xpress service will allow Gogo to utilize the first global Ka-band solution, which is expected to bring significantly improved performance to the global aero market in terms of coverage, capacity and cost. With expected transmission speeds up to 50 megabits per second, Global Xpress will power a solution that provides a high-performing satellite experience for passengers and airlines alike.

“We believe that this is truly a game changer for our industry in that it’s the first scalable global solution in the market. Inmarsat has assembled an incredible team and we are highly confident in the execution plan we’ve put in place,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “One of our goals is to be able to provide technology solutions that enable us to service the full-fleet needs of our current and future airline partners; regardless of aircraft size or mission. By partnering with Inmarsat, we are able to add an important piece to our technology puzzle.”

“Gogo is a leader in in-flight connectivity in terms of installing aircraft, managing bandwidth and driving customer adoption,” added Mondale. “We are excited to work with Gogo and all of our partners to bring Global Xpress to the aero market.”

Gogo and its subsidiary, Aircell, will also be appointed as a SwiftBroadband distribution partner for the aeronautical markets.

Gogo is a leading provider of in-air global satellite connectivity solutions for business aviation through Aircell, with more than 5,000 aircraft in service. Aircell has already installed equipment that utilizes Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband solution for global connectivity service on more than 100 business aircraft.

“The Little Blue Pill For Your PIPE”
It is not the size but the way you use it.

Last time in “Why Size Doesn’t Matter” I outlined the specific issues limiting timely connectivity communication due to satcom latency. Today, lets talk about some fixes, to make the most out of your pipe.

In a world guided by the laws of physics you may feel a little trapped by the inevitable lack of comparable Internet service when flying over the pacific at 600mph, but I have good news. The Internet is a complex place filled with a lot more than just streaming media.

The Internet world is really broken into two broad categories that have evolved sequentially in two distinct directions:

1) Communications Centered. 1970-199x
2) Rich Media Content. 199x-Today

For the last 40 years the Internet has grown and moved inevitably towards the “richening” of content from text email and bulletin boards to AJAX and embedded interactive media, but one fact seems to buck this trend, the growth of instant connections and the new “always connected” model. Since 2007 we have seen a steady reversal of the importance of Internet media in a human sense back to raw connectivity. Born out of the collision of convenience, and shrinking Internet devices (Smartphones), the “instant al-ways on” model exploded.

To understand how important the use of this technology is to your inflight connectivity needs, you need to examine both the growth of rich sources, such as, Streaming Video at the same time as growth in Instant Messaging/Broadcasting and Status Updates. A recent study on Internet usage shows the US’s largest single consumer-use of band-width during peak hours is Netflix (15m members) at over 20% (400+ Mb per day per user); whereas, Facebook with over 150 million users in the US market only uses 2%. In fact, 8 of the top 10-bandwidth users are streaming video, accounting for 60% of all traffic on the Internet by volume.

So how to take advantage of the change? Firstly you must offer connectivity, “always on” is just that. Secondly, offer targeting access services… not the pipe. The Internet is not what it used to be and selective access is not only a bandwidth advantage but also a passenger service preposition advantage.

Here is an analysis of usage and SBB (Swift Broadband) costs to clarify the service focus:

• Open Internet access on SBB, limited to a single channel of 400 Kbits/s costs the passenger a maximum of $15-$30* per minute to stream video. (Based on the 50K bytes per second link speed)

• Mobile Facebook access on SBB, costs the passenger a maximum of $0.22-$0.44* per minute. (Based on US figures for mobile access of 24 hours a month @ 16% of 400 MB usage per month)

• Instant Messenger access on SBB, costs the passenger of $.005-$0.01 per minute. (Based on 40 words per minute composition and 5 simultaneous conversations)

In addition, the bandwidth requirements for Mobile Facebook are such that a single channel could supply simultaneous service for over 500 passengers.

Interesting enough, many other services have similar, if not smaller, network profiles but are highly desirable, such as Instant Messaging and Twitter. In time, the market players will move but the new “instant always on” culture has become well entrenched in our lives.

So what is the little blue pill for your air to ground pipe, it is optimizing your Internet offer-ing to selective services that are highly desirable and bandwidth effective, and re-focusing open Internet access as a generally desirable inflight service.

References :

* Based on SBB costing of $5-$10 per megabyte

Let’s start out this week with a new Aircell aeronautical equipment package for Swift Broadband service that’ll roll out at EBACE 2010 in Geneva this week. Two featurers of the new hardware are Thrane & Thrane’s new AVIATOR 200 and a very interesting antenna. Here’s the skinny on the radios for our techno readers: “Thrane & Thrane’s innovative AVIATOR 200 simultaneously provides data speeds up to 200 kbps and a single AMBE 2 channel for voice calls, providing smaller aircraft with a complete airborne communications solution where this was not achievable before. These data and voice services can be accessed via wired or wireless connections built into the AVIATOR 200, alleviating the need for external wired and wireless routers.” The second part of the hardware equation is the new, small, low-gain, blade antenna – still capable of voice and data speeds up to 200 kbps. We have included a picture of the antenna in this issue and it is perfect for bizjets (Weight: 1.5 lbs., Height: 4.57 in., Length: 11 in., Width: 4.25 in.). Here is the full story.

Next, we came across a report on a hot, 37 page, very detailed UBS Financial document. It was reported in an article in the Seattle PI Blogs with the titillating title: “Airlines Have Ordered Too Many Planes”. Within the body, you can read about some 793 aircraft over-ordered by world airlines and 250 that are supposedly under-ordered. If one believes these numbers, the next 9 months ought to be interesting for IFE vendors! This report seems contrary to recent upturned economic indicators and we wondered if smart folks in our industry had the same opinion? We asked a couple of aviation professionals, and got these answers:

“Regarding passenger demand forecasts, GE’s Ian Gurekian at the 2008 SpeedNews Conference said that, generally speaking, industry passenger demand forecast have been wrong.  Most forecasts show a monotonically rising demand slope in the neighborhood of 3-6% over a couple year period. But he demonstrated that this demand slope almost never happens!  The passenger demand slope is highly volatile.  It ranges from a -3% to a positive 13% over periods as short at one year. This is a very bad forecasting environment so it is no wonder that the number of big jets on order is “over sold.” – John Courtright – SIE

“Have airlines over-ordered new aircraft? I suppose that’s possible. But look at what United did recently. They ordered new aircraft at a time when they could leverage the best OEM pricing. And they weren’t just building a bigger fleet–they were purchasing aircraft that fit their revised business model–one that says fly fewer seats to more destinations and keep the planes full. And they ordered aircraft that were more fuel-efficient, and the orders are spread over what appears to be a realistic timeline. And another and–they might just merge with Continental to bring about a more efficient airline. Delta provides another example–they deferred ordering additional aircraft and reinvested in expanding IFE and improving their cabins. These kinds of decisions do not indicate over-ordering.” Michael Childers – Lightstream Communications.

Ultimately, one reader got it right: “The UBS Wealth Management division has open short sales on Boeing and EADS stock.”

Lastly readers, don’t forget the upcoming AIX in Hamburg, Germany on May 18 – 20. We hope to bring you the latest news in IFE from the floor. And just to prove your IFExpress team go to any length to bring you the lowdown on IFE and connectivity, we are flying to Hamburg via Reykjavik on a B757…GULP!

Melbourne Australia 19th February 2010
Ron Chapman CEO of ASiQ Limited announced today that SafeCell will change the rules for in-flight messaging.

Ron stated “When we created SafeCell, the initial App was designed as a low cost Mobile phone platform for corporate jets. Refer ifexpress article

We have now tested our App on every available aircraft satellite network and recently received the latest Inmarsat swift broadband aircraft system.

We activated the SafeCell App on multiple mobile phones and were simultaneously sending SMS, MMS and Voice messages in both directions. As such, we are now confident we could accommodate the messaging requirements of 400+ passengers on a jumbo.

Not only that, unlike existing systems, SafeCell does not incur GSM roaming charges and we see no reason messaging in an aircraft should be more expensive than on the ground and its time someone did something about it.

As such, for the first time in aviation communications history, the price of SafeCell in-flight messaging can actually be cheaper than on the ground. We are talking of providing an SMS service that could be as low as 5 cents per message and MMS for under 25 cents, plus Instant Messaging for free.

We know from our competitor’s flight test on QANTAS and Air France that hundreds of messages are being sent on flights, despite their high roaming charges. We believe that SafeCell’s lower cost will make it affordable for all passengers, not just the business traveller.

The SafeCell App achieves this, as it makes the Bluetooth connection on the mobile the primary link and connects to a Bluetooth hotspot in the aircraft. SafeCell delivers its service via low cost satellites through the Internet, avoiding the GSM roaming charges.

The App makes a Bluetooth dumb phone smart and a smartphone even smarter and as Bluetooth is up to 3 Mbps, speed is not an issue.

We now see SafeCell as a real option for all airlines.”

Later this month ASiQ will release the worlds first certifiable Bluetooth Hotspot