Update on February 22, 2016: Gogo airlines announced that American Airlines has dropped its lawsuit.
If you’re fed up with lousy in-flight Wi-Fi, you’re not the only one. American Airlines is, too.
In fact, it’s so annoyed with Gogo, the current provider of Wi-Fi on a quarter of its 800-strong fleet of aircraft, that it’s taking the company to court.
American Airlines’ lawsuit aims to free the carrier from its current contract with Gogo and switch to what it hopes will be a better service.
Gogo’s contract promises to exceed, or at least match, the Wi-Fi speeds of competing services, but American says that after “carefully evaluating the new technology and services in the marketplace,” the airline had “recently notified Gogo that ViaSat offers an in-flight connectivity system that materially improves on Gogo’s air-to-ground system.”
ViaSat, as its name suggests, uses communications satellite technology for its Wi-Fi service, a more robust solution that offers much faster Internet speeds than older ground-based cell towers, which therefore in theory should offer passengers access to high-bandwidth services such as YouTube or Netflix. Current ViaSat customers include United Airlines, JetBlue, and Virgin America.
Gogo hasn’t given up hope of settling the issue with the carrier, commenting, “We would like to note that American is a valued customer of ours and that we look forward to resolving the disagreement regarding contract interpretation that led to this declaratory judgment action.”
Presumably it’ll be hoping to tempt the airline with its recently launched satellite-based 2Ku connectivity solution, which, in theory, can offer speeds to match ViaSat’s.
Rollout of Gogo’s high-speed service may be too slow for American’s liking, however, and even then it needs to prove its reliability, robustness, and cost effectiveness. The nation’s biggest carrier is expected to consider Gogo’s pitch before making a final decision on whether to switch services – if it can wriggle free from its contract, that is.