Gogo’s John Wade says 2Ku is now in full production

John Wade, Gogo's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
John Wade, Gogo’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

John Wade was recently appointed to the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Gogo. In his new role he has responsibility for both Gogo’s commercial and business aviation arms.

“Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols spoke to John about his role and asked him about the company’s plans, especially as its 2Ku solution for airlines is picking up momentum.

“Today [September 1st] is an auspicious day for us as it marks the point at which we go into full 2Ku production,” said John.

“We’ve got about 1,200 aircraft committed to 2Ku and over the next few months, and into 2017, we’ll be ramping up production. We’re very excited about that backlog and very excited about what 2Ku will bring to aviation.

”My focus is on ensuring that the deployment goes as smoothly as possible,” he said.

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

2Ku is Gogo’s Ku-band inflight connectivity solution that uses a ThinkCom dual-panel antenna. Launched at AIX Hamburg in April 2014, Gogo said then that the new technology could 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 was 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.

Gogo’s Jimmy Ray

Steve Nichols was invited to test 2Ku on Gogo’s “Jimmy Ray” test aircraft in the UK in April 2016 and reported a consistent service of up to 20-27 Mbps, which was the “throttled” bandwidth limit on the SES-4 satellite being used.

According to its web site, current 2Ku partners include Aeromexico, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, American Airlines, Capital Airlines, British Airways, Delta, GOL, Hainan, Iberia, Japan Airlines, JTA, United and Virgin Atlantic.

Gogo's "Jimmy Ray" B-737 test aircraft.
Gogo’s “Jimmy Ray” B-737 test aircraft.

Gogo announced that 2Ku went live with Aeromexico in April 2016.

“I think 2Ku is being successful as it speaks to the technological superiority of the system over its competitors,” Wade said. “The airlines recognise that, which is why they have made commitments to it.

“We are ecstatic about its performance. It’s probably doing better than even our wild expectations.”

The “Jimmy Ray” and 2Ku are currently touring Europe and the Middle East and you can keep up to date on its progress and bandwidth speeds via Twitter.

Gogo also announced on August 29 that it had received an STC for 2Ku on the Boeing 747.

“There are also a number of developments under way to boost 2Ku even more, including the development of a new modem that will boost data speeds even higher,” John said.

Gogo’s website says that when more next-generation HTS Ku-band satellites come online, 2Ku’s dual antenna – coupled with its next-generation modem – has the capacity to deliver peak speeds of 200+ Mbps to the aircraft.

“This will boost 2Ku from offering a market-leading performance to a stratospheric performance,” John said.

Air-to-ground

So is Gogo forgetting all about its air-to-ground (ATG) network in North America and Canada?

“Not at all,” said Wade. “ATG is very much a mature product today and is used extensively by both airlines and business aviation.

“We’ve got around 6,000 aircraft flying with ATG and it offers a reliable service with contiguous coverage. It is still a stalwart of the Gogo stable,” he said.

The new Gogo Business Aviation coverage map.
The new Gogo Business Aviation coverage map.

Gogo Business Aviation recently announced it had expanded its ATG coverage on the eastern seaboard of North America and in central Canada. It now provides approximately one hour of additional air-to-ground inflight connectivity in both locations for business aircraft.

Gogo is also rolling out its GogoBiz 4G service for business aviation in quarter one 2017.

It will also be offering Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX Ka-band service for business aviation when the system is fully rolled out later this year. This will use a tail-mount Honeywell antenna, although VVIP and other business customers with larger aircraft can opt for the Honeywell fuselage-mounted antenna.

Jet ConneX will ultimately be offered for smaller aircraft in the future when the Kymeta flat-panel antenna comes into production, but that is likely to be at least year down the line, possibly more.

So will Gogo be offering Inmarsat’s Ka-band GX Aviation service to commercial airline customers?

“No, that’s a very easy dialogue,” said Wade. “We offer our 2Ku solution for commercial customers and Ka-band Jet ConneX for business aviation.”

So from one fellow Brit to another, “Well done old chap!” Congratulations on your promotion John from all at “Get Connected.”

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