Mobile Devices

Gogo to launch 5G network for airliners in 2021

31 May 2019

In-flight internet provider Gogo plans to build a 5G network for aviation with the goal of bringing high-speed broadband to commercial and business aircraft.

The Gogo air-to-ground network would be designed for use on business aviation, commercial regional jets and smaller mainline jets operating in the U.S. and Canada. The company plans for the network to be available sometime in 2021.

"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 said it will build the 5G network on its existing infrastructure of more than 250 towers and will use the 2.4 GHz range, along with in-house modem and beamforming technology. The 5G infrastructure will support all spectrum types — either licensed, shared or unlicensed — and bands in the low, mid and high range.

Gogo will continue to use its 3G and 4G networks for aircraft in the continental U.S. and Canada that will provide backup for the 5G network when needed, similar to what other telecoms are planning in their rollouts of the 5G network.

This handoff between networks will take place when an internet device either on the ground or in an aircraft moves beyond the coverage of the 5G network. At that point, it will switch to either a 4G or 3G connection. While some companies have stated the handoff is seamless without losing voice connectivity, it is unclear if there will be a data loss or if most devices will have built-in dual-connectivity allowing for a continuous session.

Gogo, which uses air-to-ground networks, said that ground-based network technologies offer operational advantages over satellite networks because of the lower cost of operations and lower latency.

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