Gogo goes international with Air China trial of wireless IFE

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Air China has become the first international carrier to implement Gogo's wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution, opening a potential new revenue stream for the Chicago headquartered company.

The first live trial of wireless IFE was conducted on 15 November on an Air China Boeing 737 en route from Beijing to Chengdu, confirmed Gogo, following the emergence of reports from China that a trial with an undisclosed company had begun.

Tests are expected to continue through the first quarter of 2012, added Gogo.

"We are excited to bring Gogo's wireless in-flight entertainment system to Air China and look forward to working with them on providing affordable entertainment options to their passengers," said Michael Small, Gogo's president and chief executive officer. "As the first international air carrier to offer Gogo's in-flight entertainment equipment, this represents a significant milestone for Gogo and for Air China."

Counting AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America among its customers Gogo has seen rapid adoption of its air-to-ground (ATG)-supported in-flight connectivity service in the United States. But the firm recently threw its hat into the international arena, by offering wireless IFE to both US- and non-US airlines alike. The service does not require a live connection to the ground, but rather offers cached content, and the ability to communicate with other passengers, say reports, via the on board server.

American and Delta are early adopters of Gogo wireless IFE.

Gogo also intends to offer a global Ka-band satellite-based connectivity solution to operators when Inmarsat's Global Xpress service becomes available, and is making a Ku-band solution available to its airline partners in the interim.

Gogo could not be immediately reached for further comment on the Air China deal. News of the trial comes as reports surface that Chinese regulators have decided that in-flight calls are safe, but that Chinese carriers are reluctant to offer the service.