Aircell reveals plan to offer Ka- and Ku-band in-flight internet

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Aircell has thrown its hat into the international arena for in-flight high-speed internet with plans ultimately to offer a global Ka-band satellite-based connectivity solution to operators, while making a Ku-band solution available to its airline partners in the interim.

The Chicago firm, whose Gogo air-to-ground-supported high-speed internet solution has been fitted to myriad aircraft flying in the USA, will face competition from Ku-band connectivity providers Panasonic Avionics and Row 44, which are also looking to provide Ka-band solutions.

Revealing its long-awaited technology roadmap, Aircell says it will offer a regional Ka-band service covering the continental USA in 2013, going global by 2015, when a superfast global Ka-band service called Global Xpress is expected to be available from Inmarsat.

In the interim, Aircell says it can provide a Ku-band-based satellite solution for the international needs of its airline partners. Further details about Aircell's Ku offering - and the status of its regulatory clearances - are not immediately known.

Aircell has also announced plans to boost its current air-to-ground-based Gogo offering in the USA.

At present, Gogo features 3G wireless using EV-DO Rev A technology. Aircell's new service, dubbed ATG-4, "will significantly enhance the existing ATG network and improve per aircraft capacity by approximately four times current performance through the addition of directional antenna, dual modem and EV-DO Rev B technologies", says the firm, which will roll out ATG-4 in the first half of next year.

"This new platform is backward compatible and allows for upgrades to existing [air to ground] systems through low-cost retrofits," adds Aircell.