Gogo Advances 2Ku System, On Track With Installations

U.S. in-flight entertainment provider targets equipping of 550-650 aircraft in 2017.

Gol’s latest Gogo 2Ku connectivity system installation on a Boeing 737 marks the 200th aircraft equipped with the technology. Gogo is also rolling out a new modem that will provide more bandwidth—up to 400 Mbps, which should allow it to support next-generation high-throughput satellites.

Anand Chari, EVP and chief technology officer, tells Aviation Week Network that Gogo has a 1,600 aircraft backlog and expects to finish all of the installations within two years. Gogo is pacing to equip 550-650 aircraft with 2Ku technology this year.

The 2Ku systems involves structural modifications because the dual phased-array antennas, supplied to Gogo exclusively from ThinKom, are significantly larger and sit on top of the aircraft, so they need to be attached to the aircraft frames, says Chari. The symmetrically shaped antennas—one for transmit and one for receive mode, each of which use different frequencies--have fewer moving parts and are only 4.5-inch high. Because of the shape and larger surface area, it should deliver a larger aperture and reduced drag.

 The whole installation takes “sub two days,” including mounting the antenna and installing the server and access points, says John Wade, executive VP and COO. For a narrowbody aircraft, onboard access points act like a Wifi router at home. Typically there are three access points for a narrowbody and six for a widebody, says Chari.

The air-to-ground antenna was smaller and attached to an aircraft’s belly so for operators upgrading to the 2Ku system, removing the system is pretty straightforward and basically requires removing the old system and covering the space, says Wade.

The 2Ku system is “a true global solution and operates gate to gate,” says Chari. It works everywhere except the Poles, but after low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations launch in 2019, those areas should be covered, too, says Wade.

Standard bandwidth provisioning for each passenger is 15 Mbps, which allows streaming and Internet browsing.

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