Canada gets the ATG party started: Aircell applauds

Industry Canada yesterday afternoon invited companies to apply for an air-to-ground (ATG) license, in a move that brings the country’s airlines closer to being able to offer ATG-based connectivity on domestic flights.

Check out the ATG auction rules from Industry Canada at the following link:

Final Auction Rules for Canadian ATG.pdf

You’ll see that, not unlike the US FCC’s 2006 auction of 4MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band allocated to ATG services – which resulted in Aircell’s ownership of 3MHz and LiveTV’s 1MHz – Industry Canada’s ATG spectrum is divided into two paired blocks and each will be licensed on a national basis as follows:

Spectrum Licence             Frequency Band                                 Amount of Spectrum

A                                849-850.5 / 894-895.5 MHz        3 MHz

B                                850.5-851 / 895.5-896 MHz        1 MHz

Notes the regulator: “An Industry Canada auction does not constitute an endorsement by the department of any particular service, technology or product, nor does a spectrum licence constitute a guarantee of business success.”

Okay, whatever. We know what ATG is going to be used for – in-flight Wi-Fi. It’s about time, Canada.

Air Canada A320.jpg

Canadian firm Bell Mobility has long been considered a strong contender for the license. Whoever is the winner, however, Aircell intends to partner with that firm.

“Aircell can’t participate in the auction since it has to be won by a Canadian organization. We would partner with the winner,” says an Aircell spokesman.

Aircell plans to offer its Gogo Internet service on Air Canada’s domestic fleet. However, until an ATG license is awarded, a partnership brokered with the licensee and an infrastructure built to support the service, Aircell is consigned to offering Gogo on Air Canada’s US-bound flights – once they start flying over US towers.

“We are obviously excited about this news [that Industry Canada has invited applications for an ATG license] and are looking forward to working with the new licensee to bring Gogo in-flight Internet to Canadian airline passengers,” says Aircell.

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2 Responses to Canada gets the ATG party started: Aircell applauds

  1. caio Nery March 28, 2009 at 4:14 am #

    How’s going to pay for Wi-Fi on flights? Passengers? or Airline?

  2. Mary Kirby April 1, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    I’ve got a query in on this…If I were to make an assumption, the pricing is likely to be comparable to the scheme offered here in the US, but let me get a definitive on that. It would be very nice if AC made the bold move of offering Wi-Fi for free, but that likely would mean the carrier would have to assume more up-front cost.