WAEA: Air Canada Gogos with Aircell
AIRCELL has added Air Canada to the list of airline takers for its Gogo terrestrially based passenger broadband service. The Canadian carrier plans to offer the service to passengers on trans-border flights from next spring, initially equipping Airbus A319s.
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.
The American Airlines trial was formally launched three weeks ago. "Now that we're up and running on American and selected by three more carriers, we're being taken more and more seriously," says Fran Phillips, Aircell's senior VP for airline solutions. "We hold a signed letter of intent from another carrier and are in contract negotiations with a second."
American Airlines plans to fit its entire domestic fleet if the outcome of the trial is satisfactory. "The system is performing well, and the airline and its passengers are happy," says Phillips. "Usage is higher than we expected - just three weeks in, it's already up where we projected it to be after a year."
Passengers are using the service mainly for messaging, email and Web access, according to Phillips. "We're not seeing anything very extreme in the way of applications," she says. "We can throttle bandwidth hogs if necessary but we've not had to do it so far."
Commenting on recent reports that enthusiasts had succeeded in making VoIP calls across the Gogo system in spite of a decision by both Aircell and American to bar voice communications, Phillips said: "There's no technical objection to voice, but the fact is that we don't see a very strong demand from either airlines or passengers."
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 its North American routes.
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