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Aircell gears up for Canadian launch

Aircell is optimistic that Air Canada will trial its in-flight broadband solution this year, but says certain details must still be worked out with Canada's air-to-ground (ATG) spectrum license owner before it can rollout the service across the carrier's fleet, as planned.

Earlier this year an entity called SkySurf Canada acquired at auction the country's ATG spectrum license. Aircell, which holds the ATG broadband license in the USA, is still working on an arrangement with SkySurf that would enable it to offer its Gogo service on Air Canada's domestic flights.

Building the necessary cell tower infrastructure to support Gogo in Canada also is "the domain of the Canadian company", says Aircell executive vice-president - airlines John Happ.

While a formal understanding between the three entities may "take some time to play out", Aircell is "certainly highly optimistic and remains engaged with both parties", says Happ.

Initially, Gogo will be offered on Air Canada's transborder flights when the aircraft hit US airspace.

Happ says one trial aircraft, an Air Canada Airbus A319, has been equipped with Gogo "and a second should be completed shortly".

Fleet-wide rollout is expected to occur in 2010 "and I don't see anything that is likely out there that will thwart that plan", says Happ.

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