Why the stakes are high for Aircell and the rest of us

Saints above, it has finally happened! Aircell’s in-flight connectivity service Gogo thPrayer 2.JPGis morning went live on American Airlines’ Boeing 767-200 fleet. Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been praying for this day for a long time. And frankly, right now I’m wishing I had booked on American for my upcoming flight to Los Angeles, where nearby Long Beach is hosting both the WAEA and Interiors events.

With all systems now go, go, go on American, the onus is on Aircell to prove that its long-touted system not only works, but works really well. All eyes are on the carrier - and all ears on Gogo users – as the three- to six-month test of Aircell’s system begins.

The stakes are ever so high. The outcome of American’s trial will help determine the speed at which in-flight connectivity is adopted in the United States.

If the system proves robust and passenger take-up is fierce, Aircell is in a very sweet place, and could very well capture a sizeable chunk of the US market. An Aircell success could also prompt LiveTV, which holds a narrowband slice of air-to-ground spectrum, to step into broadband via satellite-based means (heck, it’s got loads of experience with satellite television). 

If Aircell’s system falters or doesn’t live up to expectations, it would be a major setback for the Colorado-based company (and its investors alike) as well as other connectivity providers because carriers will grow ever more cautious about adopting new services. 

The Aircell trial will also decide – perhaps once and for all – whether an air-to-ground network can truly support broadband services. The jury is currently out on whether Aircell can offer in the air the type of high-speed functionality that we have all come to know and love on the ground.

Stay tuned…

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