The new service - called Gogo GTO, or Ground to Orbit – is a proprietary hybrid technology that combines the best aspects of existing satellite technologies with Gogo's Air to Ground (ATG) cellular network. The technology will use satellite for receive only (transmission to the plane) and Gogo's Air to Ground network for the return link (transmission to the ground). Virgin America will be the launch partner of the new service, which is expected to be available in the second half of 2014.
Gogo will be utilizing a Ku antenna developed specifically for receive only functionality. The advantages of using satellite for reception only and Gogo's ATG Network for the return link are unprecedented. Existing two-way satellite antennas in the commercial aviation market have limited power for transmissions so they don't interfere with other satellites. This dynamic makes the connection from the aircraft to the ground using two-way satellite an inefficient and expensive return link compared to Gogo's ATG Network. Gogo's receive only antenna will be two times more spectrally efficient and half the height of other antennas in the commercial aviation market. The low profile of the antenna will result in much less drag and therefore fuel burn on the aircraft and, ultimately, greater operational efficiencies for airlines.
Gogo's new satellite antenna can also leverage a number of today's Ku band satellites as well as future Ku band satellites, including spot beam Ku satellites. This enables Gogo to take advantage of new Ku satellite technologies as they become available without having to install a new antenna. The ability to use multiple satellites avoids reliance on a single satellite and provides a more robust and reliable network for airline partners and our end users. The system is also backed up by Gogo's Air to Ground network, which gives the service significant advantages in terms of resiliency.
"By using this type of hybrid technology you're utilizing the low latency of ATG and the high throughput of current and future satellite technologies, which we feel will give passengers a much better user experience," added Gogo's chief technology officer, Anand Chari. "We also expect GTO to be the most TV friendly solution in the market. The receive-only GTO antenna's higher spectral efficiency and lower cost structure will produce a better quality picture for various types of applications including IPTV."
Gogo will seek FAA approval for the new service in the 2014.