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Air Canada details Gogo introduction plans

22nd September 2008 - 01:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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AIR CANADA has furnished further details of its plan to introduce Aircell’s Gogo terrestrially based passenger broadband system.

“We will launch the service next spring on two Airbus A319s flying Toronto-Los Angeles and/or Toronto-San Francisco,” says airline spokesman John Reber. “We plan in time to equip our Embraer 190 and Airbus A320-family fleets, which operate on our North American routes.”

Air Canada is the fourth carrier to be associated with Gogo. American Airlines is trialling it on 15 Boeing 767s, while Virgin America and Delta have committed to fleet fits.  

With Air Canada the service will be available initially when the aircraft enter US airspace and the coverage of Aircell’s current nationwide network. Subsequently coverage will be extended to allow unbroken communications on routes between Canadian cities such as Montreal and Toronto and all the carrier’s destinations in the continental USA. Aircell expects ultimately to implement a Canadian network that would allow Gogo to be offered on all of Air Canada’s North American routes.

According to Aircell, Gogo currently provides about 12Mbit/sec of bandwidth to the aircraft to support passenger access to email, the Internet and private networks via their own wireless devices, a cabin WiFi network and an air-to-ground link based on CDMA EV-DO Rev A cellular technology.

This summer the company announced plans to evolve the system to incorporate LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, the ultra-broadband last stop in the present GSM roadmap. LTE is intended to support downloads at speeds in the 100-200Mbit/sec range to cellular user devices on the ground, though Aircell speaks of speeds of up to 300Mbit/sec to the aircraft.    
 
“LTE will ensure we can support the services passengers will demand in the future, helping our airline customers to stay competitive as services become more complex and demand more bandwidth,” said Aircell chief technology officer Joe Cruz. Among the new IFE possibilities foreseen are high-definition and interactive television and multi-player immersive gaming.

The potential huge expansion in bandwidth is expected to generate a whole new range of operational benefits. “Airline operations will also benefit from this 4G technology, which will support a wide array of powerful applications such as high-resolution graphical weather to the flight deck,” said Cruz.
 
Aircell plans to deploy LTE by the beginning of 2011. In the meantime, the company expects further advances in EV-DO to boost Gogo’s performance to up to 22.7Mbit/sec to the aircraft by the end of next year.

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