Get ready to surf the Canadian skies…once issues sorted

It looks like in-flight connectivity might finally get off the ground in Canada, after an entity called SkySurf Canada recently acquired at auction the country’s air-to-ground (ATG) spectrum license. Industry Canada set the spectrum auction rules this spring.

Thumbnail image for Air Canada.jpgSo what does this mean for Aircell, which holds the ATG broadband license in the USA, and already has a deal in place to offer its Gogo system on Air Canada’s aircraft?

Initially, Gogo will be offered on Air Canada’s transborder flights when the aircraft hit US airspace. But ultimately, Aircell wants to equip Air Canada’s entire mainland fleet (and no doubt it would like to see its hybrid solution on Air Canada’s overseas flights).

Key comment from Aircell senior VP of strategy and business development Robin Salem, as reported by Canoe Technology:

Aircell wants to expand its footprint north of the border and expects to negotiate an agreement with SkySurf to provide the service in Canada. The goal is to allow passengers to enjoy inflight Internet service “seamlessly and consistently throughout Canada and across the board”.

But what about Canada’s cell tower infrastructure? It isn’t quite adequate yet, is it?

Technology writer Glenn Fleishman tells Canoe that a partnership between SkySurf and Aircell would mean the Canadian company would only have to put up about 20 cell towers. Aircell already has a lot of towers along the border with Canada.

Interestingly, Porter Airlines recently told me the same thing. A Porter spokesman said the carrier is mulling offering Aircell’s service since those border towers are so close.

So it looks like SkySurf – owned by one Raed Almasri – and Aircell have some serious chatting to do. Here’s hoping those chats are fruitful in the near-term. Air Canada has a wonderful in-flight entertainment system, but passengers also want to be connected (as we well know).

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One Response to Get ready to surf the Canadian skies…once issues sorted

  1. Bob June 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    Its hybrid solution?! Cool. I thought that was just pie in the sky. Oh, wait, it is.