I hate paying for in-flight Wi-Fi. I exploit its horrible high quality and excessive value as excuses to disconnect from the world and take a nap. But Gogo is about to wreck my life with its upgraded Wi-Fi, rolling out to airways later this yr.

I examined Gogo’s next-gen 2Ku web system in its Airborne Test Lab, a Boeing 737-500 that flew a pair dozen journalists round Newark Liberty International Airport Tuesday afternoon. The lab setting mixed Gogo’s upgraded modem with capability from Intelsat’s high-throughput satellites, which purpose to ship as much as 100 Mbps per airplane. On a principally empty aircraft cruising at 30,000 ft, I used to be getting wherever from 20-50 Mbps obtain speeds on each gadget I introduced with me: a MacGuide Air, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and iPhone 7 Plus. This will seemingly by no means occur to me once more—each sitting in a seat with additional legroom on a Boeing 737 and the ultra-fast obtain speeds—and it was superb.

Caitlin McGarry/IDG

Seriously, a lot legroom on this check flight.

I performed Beats One, Apple Music’s live-streaming radio station, on my iPhone, watched episodes of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix on my iPad Pro, watched a number of film trailers on YouTube, despatched dozens of iMessages, chatted with my coworkers on the Mac Slack app, and labored in our content material administration system (which hates regular in-flight Wi-Fi and is due to this fact my excuse for not engaged on planes). My pal Ed Baig of USA Today even managed to Facebook Live the expertise (with a quick visitor look from yours really) for near 30 minutes. 

I struggled to make FaceTime video calls, with simply one of many three makes an attempt I made profitable. The video high quality wasn’t nice, and there was a extreme lag. Gogo’s reps advised me add speeds are nowhere near the obtain velocity functionality, and that’s partly resulting from airways not wanting passengers to make calls and add movies to social networks (though as United can attest, once you’re nonetheless on the bottom, all bets are off).

There had been 53 units connecting to Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi throughout our check flight. The max add velocity was eight Mbps, whereas max obtain was 93 Mbps. I didn’t expertise something near 93 Mbps, however I did hit 53 Mbps, which was fairly stable. We used a complete of 29GB in our roughly 2-hour flight.

Gogo’s first-gen 2Ku modems are already in use on choose Delta, AeroMexico, and Virgin Australia planes. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are presently testing the expertise. With 2Ku, Gogo is aiming for 15+ Mbps per passenger with 98 % service availability. That’s much better than what we’ve got proper now, and Gogo expects its next-gen modem and high-throughput satellites to bump obtain speeds even increased than 15 Mbps (although possibly not fairly 53 Mbps).

gogo wi fi testCaitlin McGarry/IDG

I put Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi via a number of velocity checks over the course of the flight utilizing the PaceTest and SpeedSmart apps for iOS.

How Gogo is fixing its Wi-Fi downside

Gogo’s repute isn’t nice. Its Wi-Fi was so sluggish that American Airlines sued the corporate to get out of its contract (however later dropped the swimsuit and is now dedicated to outfit 140 planes with 2Ku expertise). The actual motive for god-awful, snail-like web speeds? Air-to-ground expertise. Connecting planes to ground-based cellphone towers resulted in constrained bandwidth with obtain speeds of round three Mbps. That’s simply…unhappy.

Those had been the darkish ages, however we’re transferring previous that. Gogo leased capability from Intelsat to attach planes to satellites—wide-beam at first, and shortly high-throughput ones that layer extra capability on high of current satellites for higher-trafficked areas. Those satellites are coming on-line this yr, with the Asia Pacific area rounding out the growth with high-throughput satellite tv for pc protection towards the tip of 2018. By leasing capability from Intelsat, Gogo can lastly make streaming and web-browsing on a long-distance flight a quicker, much less irritating expertise.

Will that value extra? Well, in-flight Wi-Fi pricing is the area of the airways, however a Gogo spokesperson advised me it’s unlikely that the upgraded service will value way over it presently does. (That would definitely anger airline passengers, which is what this air-to-satellite system is designed to repair.) Some airways even supply promotions with free Gogo Wi-Fi.

I don’t count on my flight on Gogo’s check lab to be consultant of my subsequent business in-flight Wi-Fi expertise, however it’s a signal that airplane web connectivity doesn’t should be so horrible. Facebook addicts and workaholics, rejoice. As for me, I’ll be over right here shaking my fist that airplanes are not an internet-free protected area.

This story, “I tested Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi of the future and said goodbye to Netflix buffering” was initially printed by Macworld.

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I examined Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi of the long run and stated goodbye to Netflix buffering by: Steve Melvin published:


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