SkySurf Canada says it is nearing agreement with Aircell on a plan to bring air-to-ground (ATG)-based broadband Internet to Canadian carriers.
Last year SkySurf acquired at auction the country's ATG spectrum license. Aircell holds the equivalent license in the USA.
A formal agreement that would enable Aircell to offer its Gogo in-flight connectivity system on Air Canada's domestic aircraft and on other Canadian carriers is in the process of "being finalized", SkySurf president and CEO Raed Almasri told ATI this week at the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) single focus workshop in Los Angeles.
Ensuring the necessary cell tower infrastructure is in place to support Gogo is the responsibility of SkySurf. But SkySurf believes only minimal construction is required "because of a mandate for tower sharing" in Canada.
Air Canada has been trialling Gogo on select transborder routes. The intent of SkySurf is to make that "when you cross over the US-Canada border, you will not see any difference in service", says Almasri, adding: "We have a solid roadmap on how to get there."
Aircell confirms that its plan for deploying Gogo on Canadian flights is moving forward. "Whether it's at the speed that we'd like is maybe debatable, but the partnership [with Air Canada] is great," says Aircell executive vice-president, airlines John Happ.
He adds: "We're bumping up against the airline's interest in moving forward and Aircell's interest in moving forward and the Canadian network development. That is where things are somewhat not ramping forward [as quickly] but we have ongoing communications several times a week with SkySurf and the airline," says Happ.