Are you already part of the mile-high-usenet club? It should be easier to get in now. Faster in-flight WiFi is coming! Eventually. To Virgin America’s fleet thanks to a new solution unveiled by Gogo. The system, called Ground to Orbit (“GTO”) should see download speeds increase to approximately 60 megabits on each plane, a 20x increase from the 3 megabit speeds the Gogo service launched with 5 years ago and a 6 increase over their current peak system known as ATG4. The system is expected to enter service in approximately one year, pending FAA approvals.
That might not be soon enough for some USENET users, but the new technology, which Gogo calls Gogo GTO or Gogo Ground to Orbit, will significantly increase the speed of in-flight wireless networks from about 10Mbps to 60Mbps. Translation for nontechies: It should be much faster and no longer remind you of AOL or Compuserve dial-up speeds.
The news comes after JetBlue Airways Corp. received government approval last week to install a new high-capacity satellite link on many of its aircraft, an inflight Wi-Fi solution that can support streaming video to fliers’ devices from Netflix Inc. and Hulu, and pretty decent USENET access. JetBlue, which has lacked inflight Internet, plans to launch the service on some aircraft this year and equip its entire fleet of 180 aircraft by the end of 2015.
By offering fast speeds at an affordable price, Gogo aims to not only make some cash, but give bored flyers something to do. Even though $14 for a day pass seems pricey — it is 60Mbps, which is leagues above your standard LTE speeds. Gogo noted that only about 6% of potential customers actually purchase the company’s current inflight WiFi option — 3Mbps to 10Mbps — so the quick speeds would theoretically boost that percentage.
Unfortunately, it should also be noted that this will still be shared connectivity which means that as more people begin using the service — the speeds will drop.