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In-flight Wi-Fi: No-go for Gogo on new fleet of planes, American Airlines says

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Markus Mainka/123RF
American Airlines has decided it’s no-go for Gogo when it comes to internet services for its new fleet of planes.

After deliberating for at least the last four months which Wi-Fi provider to use for in-flight connectivity for its new 100-strong fleet of aircraft, the carrier has gone for rival service ViaSat.

The decision sees American finally moving away from slower ground-based technology toward a faster alternative powered by satellites.

The carrier will include ViaSat’s internet technology in 100 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which are expected to take to the skies in September 2017.

Commenting on the deal with American, ViaSat chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg said the company’s Wi-Fi service would give passengers “an ‘at home’ internet experience that can serve everyone on the plane,” allowing passengers to do everything on their mobile devices and laptops from watching movies and listening to music to keeping tabs with their social media accounts and surfing the web.

Dankberg said he believed technological developments meant the industry was “now approaching the end of an era where passengers have paid very high prices for very slow connections,” though impatient fliers frustrated by poor in-flight internet service will be wondering precisely when that day will come.

As for Gogo, well, it’s not all bad for the Chicago-based company. American also confirmed it’ll be using the company’s new 2Ku satellite service on 134 of its existing Airbus planes to offer passengers faster internet. The deal appears to have come out of a move by American back in February to take Gogo to court in a bid to remove itself from a contract with Gogo. In the same month, it decided to drop its proposed court action, a decision that has apparently led to the current outcome with both ViaSat and Gogo providing internet services for its planes.

American Airlines spokesman told the Chicago Tribune the carrier has around 150 other aircraft using Gogo’s older service, though these planes are set to be retired and so won’t have their internet services upgraded. In addition, American has 400 other passenger jets that it intends to upgrade, but is yet to reach a decision on which service plan to go for.

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