Aircell’s domination of in-flight Internet in the United States is nothing short of staggering. To date, the company has secured fleet-wide equipage deals with Delta Air Lines (and its Northwest Airlines merger partner), AirTran Airways and Virgin America, as well as hefty agreements with American Airlines and Air Canada, and a forthcoming trial on United Airlines.
But as the US fleet goes Gogo, and passenger demand for the air-to-ground (ATG)-based service grows, will Aircell’s network be able to keep pace?
The company assures me that it won’t have any problems meeting its airline commitments without a drop in service quality. Each of Aircell’s 92 cell towers are subdivided into three sectors, which basically triples each cell tower’s capacity.
It is relatively easy to further subdivide the cell tower into additional sectors, through “sectorization”, to further scale capacity as needed.
“Since Gogo Inflight Internet service relies on the same cellular technology that ground-based cellular service providers use, we benefit from every technical advance and best practice in that industry (e.g., using cell splitting and sectorization to coax exponential growth in capacity out of a cell site),” says Aircell CTO Joe Cruz.
Last year, Aircell’s network focus was on ensuring 100% geographic coverage of the continental USA. This year the firm’s move to add cell sites and the use of sectorization “ensures that no matter how large we grow, we will be able to meet our service commitments”, says Cruz.
Well that’s good to know. For the as yet uninitiated, this is what to expect when you log onto Gogo during a flight.