Overcoming numerous challenges, the nationwide construction of Gogo Business Aviation’s 150-tower site network has been completed in less than 12 months. The 5G network now covers the contiguous United States and will expand into Canada beginning in 2023, according to the company.
“Our team was tenacious and overcame a host of issues including COVID-19, weather, the supply chain, and geopolitical concerns, to build a new network of 150 towers nationwide – and they did it in less than 12 months,” said Sergio Aguirre, Gogo’s president and chief operating officer. “It’s remarkable what our network deployment and field operations teams have accomplished.”
Gogo 5G is expected to deliver ~25 Mbps on average, with peak speeds in the 75-80 Mbps range, and has been designed to deliver higher throughput with lower latency to address the increasing demand for data-heavy interactive services like video conferencing, live TV, and gaming. The Gogo AVANCE platform’s multi-bearer capability and software-centric design gives customers an upgrade path to both Gogo 5G and Gogo’s global LEO satellite-based product in the future.
To receive the 5G signals, business aircraft must install an AVANCE L5 platform line replaceable unit (LRU), enhance it with a Gogo X3 (5G LRU), and belly mount two multi-band (MB13) antennas.
The MB13 antennas enable licensed and unlicensed spectrum connectivity in the sky. The beamforming MB13 antennas create a more direct signal that boosts performance and delivers a better-quality connection with less interference, according to the company.
The first-article Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for the 5G belly-mounted MB13 antennas and the X3 (5G) LRU have been completed; however, the 5G chip is not expected to be available until mid-2023. Gogo 5G service is available today with the installation of the AVANCE L5 system with full 5G provisions (including the MB13 antennas), operating on Gogo’s 4G network until the X3 LRU is available. Once the X3 is ready, it can be installed and 5G service can begin.
Gogo is working with each of the business aviation original equipment manufacturers and several authorized Gogo dealers to develop additional STCs that will cover more than 30 aircraft models.
By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor