The Federal Aviation Administration has given the in-flight broadband Internet services provider Gogo the green light to begin testing its new, high-speed Wi-Fi called 2Ku.
Announced last year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the new technology will allow in-flight Internet speeds to reach more than 70 Mbps, which is said to be 20 times faster than the Internet that is currently available in the air.
Because Gogo's 2Ku Internet uses two efficient Ku-band satellite antennas, it will be able to bring more bandwidth at a cheaper cost. The antenna are only 4.5-inches tall, being low-profile and more aerodynamic to reduce the amount of drag on the airplane compared with other satellite options. The Ku band (Kurtz-under band) is primarily used for satellite communications.
The antennas can be used with any Ku-satellite, creating a beam toward it which results in more reliable connectivity. The 2Ku Internet will be especially beneficial for airlines flying to and from tropical regions because typically other satellite solutions degrade because of their restrictions in operating at high skew angles.
And now that the FAA has approved the request to start testing the technology—giving the in-flight service providers the final Supplemental Type Certificate required—the fast-speed Wi-Fi could be integrated into aircrafts and launch as early as this year.
"This is a significant milestone for Gogo and a seminal event for in-flight Internet," Gogo Chief Technology Officer Anand Chari said in a press release. "Clearing this regulatory hurdle brings us one step closer to enabling our airline partners and their passengers to enjoy the future of in-flight Internet."
Gogo's 2Ku satellite service has already been installed on Gogo's 737-500 test aircraft, and the company can now officially start testing. Seven commercial airlines have signed up for either a trial or fleet deployment of the fast Wi-Fi, which means it will soon roll out in more than 500 commercial planes.
Gogo will start "rapid installation" on these seven commercial airlines in 2016.
The company previously launched its next-generation ATG-4 service last year, which provides Internet speeds of 9.8 Mbps. The Wi-Fi service has been used on nearly 2,400 aircraft owned by American Airlines, Delta, Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and Air Canada. It's existing Wi-Fi costs $5 an hour, $16 for an 11-day pass and $59.95 for its unlimited plan.