AIX2014: Gogo unveils next-gen global Ku-band technology

Gogo's "2Ku" dual Ku-band antenna promises up to 70mbps downlinks.
Gogo’s “2Ku” dual Ku-band antenna promises up to 70mbps downlinks.

Gogo has announced 2Ku, what it calls the next step in its technology roadmap for global connectivity.

This new technology will utilize the same low-profile antennas as Gogo’s Ground to Orbit (GTO) technology, which will be deployed for aircraft flying in North America.

However, instead of using Gogo’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) solution for the return link to the ground, 2Ku has two low-profile, high-efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas.

The antennas are flat, phased arrays from ThinKom that can be rotated to move the beams. Both antennas move together and the system can operate down to about 10 degrees according to Gogo’s chief technology officer, Anand Chari.

The system is proprietary to Gogo, he said. That is, competitors can’t copy it.

Gogo says the new technology will deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of more than 70 Mbps on the downlink and about a “quarter” of that on the RF link back to the satellite.

The antenna is said to be approximately twice as spectrally efficient as other antennas in the commercial aviation market, which means it can produce more bandwidth at lower cost.

The antenna itself is only 4.5 inches tall (6.5 inches with the radome), which reduces drag compared with other satellite solutions. Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO, said the radome has a very low-profile leading edge to reduce the risk of bird strike.

Gogo expects this new technology to outperform other global connectivity solutions currently available in the market and Japan Airlines is expected to be among the first to trial it, probably in 2015.

Michael Small, added: “2Ku is the next step in our technological evolution and is a ground-breaking new technology for the global commercial aviation market.

“When we launched our in-flight internet service five years ago, we were able to deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of 3.1 Mbps through our ATG network.

“About a year ago, we began deployment of our next generation ATG-4 service, which took peak speeds to 9.8 Mbps. Our GTO solution takes the peak speed to 70 Mbps in the US and 2Ku brings 70 Mbps to the rest of the world.”

Gogo says 2Ku’s performance benefits will be even more dramatic in the tropical [equatorial] regions of the globe where other satellite solutions degrade significantly due to restrictions associated with operating at high skew angles.

The 2Ku antenna is compatible with today’s Ku satellites and future Ku satellites, including future spot beam versions.

“We anticipate that this technology will deliver peak speeds of 70 Mbps to the aircraft when initially launched and more than 100 Mbps when new spot beam satellite technologies become available,” added Anand Chari.

Gogo says it expects the new service to be available for the commercial aviation market in mid-2015.

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