American is hush, hush about Aircell’s Gogo

American Airlines received loads of press last week when it opted to do a soft launch of Aircell’s Gogo air-to-ground connectivity service onboard a couple of Boeing 767-200 flights. So how did the system perform during the 25 June test? That’s a bloody good question, but don’t be looking to American for the answer, and don’t expect anymore freebee Gogo playtime if you’re a passenger.

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An American spokesman tells me: “At his point American is not releasing any feedback they have received on the test. Passengers will not have access to the service again until it officially launches in the coming weeks. As of yet there isn’t an exact launch date.”

 

What the heck? Aircell has been equally quiet over the last week. On 24 June, an Aircell spokesman said the news that was emerging about the soft launch was driven by American. “Other than the comments you have seen today, Aircell does not intend to comment on tomorrow’s ‘dress rehearsal’,” he said.

 

I’ve put a post-test comment request to them, regardless.

 

Meanwhile (and talk about timing), Aircell’s long-time VP of sales and marketing Bill Peltola has confirmed he is leaving the company. No reason, as yet, has been given. On an aside, I’ll miss Bill. He has been truly helpful to me over the years.

 

But as a journalist who has covered Aircell for several years, I don’t recall the Colorado-based firm ever being so, well, tight-lipped. I understand they have a lot at stake here. A stamp of approval from US giant American could see fast adoption from other carriers. A thumbs down would not be pretty.

 

Aircell has already proven its technology works. In fact, it did so as far back as 2005.  And Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal’s personal technology columnist who recently snagged a private test of Gogo - the only journalist invited to do so – seemed generally pleased. (By the way, if you sign up for a Gogo account, you will receive complimentary in-flight access to the Wall Street Journal Online.) 

 

But how will the service perform when, say, a sizeable portion of a 767 plane-load of passengers use it? I guess we’re going to have to wait to find out.

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3 Responses to American is hush, hush about Aircell’s Gogo

  1. John S. July 2, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    “But how will the service perform when, say, a sizeable portion of a 767 plane-load of passengers use it? I guess we’re going to have to wait to find out.”

    Great Question. My guess is about as good as Starbucks during lunchtime.

    Gogo may work well for bursty traffic like web surfing and email access, but I doubt that it will hold up under half a planeload of passengers trying to watch streaming medial like YouTube.

    Unfortunately, web viewing habits have trended towards streaming media and away from simple web surfing, so this may be a bottleneck, but that is only speculation on my part.

    I’m more intrigued by the iPod interface to the seatback LCD display myself. Load up your iPod with movies or TV episodes ahead of time and be able to watch them for 12 hours without getting wrist strain.

  2. Mary Kirby July 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    John, your sentiment is shared by JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV, which believes airlines can either give very basic connectivity away for free (as JetBlue does) or charge for full-blown, high-speed service that will support YouTube viewing, etc.

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