Delta international fleet to be equipped with GoGo Wi-Fi
Delta claims to operate the world’s largest Wi-Fi-equipped fleet of of 800 aircraft (including DL Connection) aircraft with more than 3,000 flights daily, reaching more than 400,000 customers. However, until recently, Delta’s WiFi offering only worked on domestic flights since the service was provided by GoGo (formerly AirCell), a company which pioneered terrestrial-based Wi-Fi networks for in-flight connectivity.
Like its competitor Row44, GoGo has set its sights beyond the confines of the US domestic market. Earlier this year GoGo finalized a deal with AeroSat to deliver oceanic Wi-Fi coverage for its airline customers. According to GoGo: AeroSat will provide the Ku-satellite antenna, radome, antenna control and modem unit and high power transceiver. “The AeroSat equipment will be coupled with Gogo’s onboard hardware and software (server and access points) to deliver a complete solution to the airlines.”
The marriage of AeroSat’s satellite components and GoGo’s existing infrastructure are currently going through an airworthiness qualification and certification process. Gogo expects to be able to install the Ku-systems on commercial aircraft as soon as the fourth quarter of 2012. Delta announced that it plans to have the upgraded system available in 150 aircraft by 2013 and in 1,000 aircraft by 2015.
In-flight connectivity is a very competitive space which I tend to monitor from the sidelines, but I’m getting my popcorn ready to see which long haul US carriers have teamed up with the providers that will offer the best service at the a reasonable cost. This is easier said than done because Ku band satellite connectivity is not cheap and this cost is directly passed on to the customer often priced at over $15/per hour, compared to GoGo’s current pricing at a bit less than that for 24 hours. Delta is not the first US airline to announce over water Wi-Fi, United announced plans last year for providing service using the Panasonic platform, also operating on the Ku band.
It will also be interesting to see what merchandising opportunities GoGo and Delta may capitalize on using the greater bandwidth of the Ku band. Ever tried waiting a video on the domestic GoGo system?, not going to happen due to the bandwidth and compliance restrictions on the terrestrial signal.