Good news for those of you who enjoy streaming high-definition video at 40,000 feet — the Federal Communications Commission has approved new antennas from Gogo that can provide download speeds of up to 70Mbps (the current average for households in the U.S. is 11.4Mbps). As the technology is optimized further, Gogo says speeds of 100Mbps should be possible from the same hardware setup.
The new system is called 2Ku, and once rolled out it has the potential to make flying a much more connected experience. Gogo says the antenna, which is just 4.5 inches tall, is “more spectrally efficient” and provides greater bandwidth for a lower cost. It also has the ability to connect to multiple satellites as it speeds through the air, adding extra stability at the same time.
“Clearing the necessary regulatory hurdles to provide this service to an aircraft flying anywhere around the globe is no small feat. Gogo has proven it is a leader at navigating these environments for all aircraft types no matter where they fly,” says Gogo President and CEO Michael Small. “We are happy that the launch of 2Ku is proceeding as planned and are continuing to work with the FAA on approval for installation.”
Don’t expect it on your next flight, though: Gogo is planning to roll out the tech to 1,000 aircraft in the second half of 2015. If all goes well, then they’ll be deployed more widely after that. 9.8Mbps is the top speed of the Gogo equipment currently installed in some aircraft, though it’s not the only company working on bringing Wi-Fi to the skies. AT&T decided to get out of the market in November.
High-speed, reliable Wi-Fi connections will make a huge difference to flights, particularly those short-haul trips where entertainment systems are not already provided in the seat in front of you. With hundreds of passengers to cater for, getting a system that allows everyone to stream Netflix simultaneously is going to take some time — but as Gogo’s announcement proves, progress is quickly being made.