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Fresh funds to help support Aircell's international growth

Having closed on a $35 million late-stage private equity round with current investors and members of its management team Aircell is looking to expand into advanced in-flight Internet services and new geographies, a company executive says.

Over 1,000 aircraft, comprising both business and commercial types, will be fitted with Aircell's air-to-ground (ATG)-based Gogo in-flight Internet system this year, says Aircell executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ash ElDifrawi. "But we are also, from an international perspective, obviously talking to our current domestic airlines regarding their international fleet.

"There are about 3,000 or so domestic airplanes, and we're on about one in every three (or a little more), but there are a couple hundred that fly international missions on top of that, which are flown by some of our partners. We are talking to our partners about international expansion, which will be part of our growth."

Aircell is targeting current Gogo customers and noncustomers alike with its international offering. "Even if they don't have Gogo right now, any carriers that fly domestically in the continental 48 who would like to offer their customers in-flight connectivity internationally would be high on the list," says Ash.

Aircell remains closed-lipped about whether it will will use L-band or Ku-band satellite capacity to support its international offering, or if it will wait until Ka-band connectivity is available. But Ash says the firm is "on the brink of talking about and being more public about our international technology roadmap."

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