5G In The Sky? Jet Edge And Gogo Could Make It A Reality

Business aviation connectivity specialist Gogo has announced this week that it has firmed up an agreement with the launch customer for its 5G network. Jet Edge, a leading full-service private jet management company, will upgrade to the 5G capabilities on 50 of its large cabin managed aircraft over a period of 24 months. The network is expected to go live in 2022.

BBJ JetEdge
Jet Edge will be the launch customer for the first 5G network built for aviation. Photo: Jet Edge

Jet Edge to launch world’s first 5G built for aviation

Gogo is on track to keep its promise to launch the world’s first 5G network for aviation in 2022, and has signed on its launch customer – leading private jet management company Jet Edge. The firm is planning to upgrade around 50 of its managed, large-cabin fleet to Gogo’s 5G network over a period of two years.

Bill Papariella, CEO of Jet Edge, commented,

“We have a long-standing relationship with Jet Edge and by upgrading to Gogo 5G, it shows the commitment Jet Edge is making to its clients to provide the best inflight connectivity and entertainment experience in business aviation. With AVANCE L5 installed across most of its fleet, upgrading to 5G becomes a relatively quick and easy process.”

5G In The Sky? Jet Edge And Gogo Could Make It A Reality
Gogo announced the signing of Jet Edge at this week’s NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition. Photo: Gogo

The swift migration to the new 5G network has been facilitated by Gogo’s AVANCE L5 compatibility strategy. Aircraft already flying with the L5 system have a fuss-free pathway to moving to 5G, something that will certainly expedite the process and minimize unwanted time on the ground.

The Gogo 5G solution

Since 2007, Gogo has connected thousands of aircraft with its ATG services across the US.  With a goal of reducing the gap between connectivity on the ground and that available in the air, Gogo has been working with Cisco for several years to bring the 5G connectivity we are used to on the ground to flights in the air. It is set to be the world’s first 5G network specifically dedicated to aviation.

Gogo’s 5G solution is rolling out first in the contiguous United States. In 2022, the service is expected to add connectivity in Canada, as well as additional capacity. It leverages Gogo’s extensive existing tower infrastructure of more than 250 ground stations. It’s a natural progression from its successful 4G rollout previously, but one which was no mean feat to achieve.

Gogo tower
The 5G network will be the fourth nationwide ATG network that Gogo has facilitated. Photo: Gogo

The end product offers higher speeds and lower latencies than other inflight WiFi products. By leveraging the power of its AVANCE L5 system, the switch to 5G is being made as simple as possible. Users will need to install a new aircraft antenna –  supplied by First RF – but other than that, the change is relatively seamless.

Refocussed on business aviation

Since Gogo has shed its commercial aviation arm, its renewed focus on its business jet customers has allowed it to offer a better than ever service. At its recent earnings call at the end of the first half of 2021, the firm noted that airplanes using its air-to-ground (ATG) network had shrunk from 1,500 in 2017 to somewhere around the 200 aircraft mark.

Those business jets still on the network were highly demanding of the capacity Gogo could offer. In Q2, 2021, 52% more data was consumed than in 2019 – a reflection of Gogo’s increased availability of capacity and the uptick in private jet flights across the quarter. Those demanding clients are willing to pay top dollar for the best service available, so the move to 5G is something of a no-brainer.

For commercial airline customers, 5G is still some way off, if it ever comes at all. Far more promising for improved inflight WiFi are the developing space technologies and new generation satellites. But the potential for 5G to create a real internet of things (IoT), it could be instrumental in the management of low altitude airspace and the emerging markets of eVTOL air taxis and drones.

 

5G In The Sky? Jet Edge And Gogo Could Make It A Reality

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