Ever since Wireless Internet became commonplace throughout the world it was only a matter of time until it penetrated the commercial airline market. Wi-fi access is slowly transitioning from a premium luxury amenity to a necessary service. While it is currently a pay service on available flights, it is only a matter of time before wi-fi becomes free on some airlines and is used as a method to entice customers. In the last few years it has gone from being very rare to find a commercial flight with access to wi-fi, to being fairly routine. One company that is currently providing the equipment and services needed for broadband on commercial flights is Aircell LLC, with their brand “Gogo Inflight Internet”.
With the combined forces of Aircell and Gogo Inflight Internet it will soon be very rare to be on a flight that doesn’t have wi-fi access. This service works based upon using the signal from cell towers on the ground and does not work over open water where there are no towers. Aircell is responsible for the infrastructure in the form of towers on the ground that basically work in reverse of how normal cell towers work, sending the signal skyward instead of towards the ground.
Gogo’s equipment on-board the jets pick up the signal and transfer it to the individual customer’s wireless enabled devices. Gogo offers several different packages that all work the same way, you pick which package you want, pay the fee and they send the password to your computer, enabling you to get online. There are currently 1077 aircraft that are using Aircell and Gogo to provide customers with in-flight broadband. Some of the airlines using Gogo are: Air Canada, Air Tran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier, America, Delta, United, and US Airways. Providing WI-fi access on intercontinental flights, especially those that travel largely over open water, takes a totally different type of technology than what Aircell provides with Gogo Inflight Internet.