Just over a week after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a green signal to inflight WiFi and mobile Internet connectivity within the country’s airspace, several global players in the space have expressed interest in entering the Indian market. One among them is Gogo, an Illinois-headquartered provider of inflight Internet and other connectivity services for commercial as well as business aircraft.
As per reports, the company’s expansion plans in India are already underway, with its first technology development centre coming up in Chennai by March 2018.
Confirming the development, a spokesperson for Gogo said, “The Chennai facility and team are being established as part of Gogo’s continued international expansion and will support the company’s IFC technology development and engineering efforts. The facility will also support Gogo’s marketing efforts with India-based airlines as the market for inflight services opens up in the region.”
The company is also in the process of hiring a team of 30 engineers and developers for its Chennai centre. By the end of 2018, Gogo plans to increase its workforce in the country to around 100, sources revealed.
Elaborating further, Anand Chari, Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer at Gogo said, “We are excited to set up base in India with our facility in Chennai. Our presence in India provides access to a large pool of technology and software talent, which will enable us to accelerate the development of our inflight connectivity and entertainment solutions and introduce them to the market.”
“The proximity of this facility to our growing base of customers in the Asia Pacific and EMEA region will allow us to better serve such customers,” Chari added.
A Brief Overview Of Gogo And Its Offerings
Founded in 1991 by Jimmy Kay, Gogo (formerly known as Aircell) started operations by teaming up with cellular providers to provide analogue-based voice communications on private aircraft in North America.
By the late 1990s, the company was leveraging a satellite-based technology to offer voice communication in overseas flights. Within a few years, in 2006, Gogo won the US Federal Communications Commission’s exclusive air-to-ground (ATG) broadband frequency licence. Its commercial debut was in 2008.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Gogo currently specialises in providing inflight broadband Internet and other connectivity services for commercial as well as business aeroplanes. At present, the company has up to 19 airlines partners, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, American Airlines, Aeromexico, Beijing Capital and JTA United Airlines, among others.
As claimed by the company’s spokesperson, Gogo has equipped more than 3,000 commercial aircraft and over 4,200 business aircraft globally with Internet services till date.
Technologies that Gogo has developed or is currently in the process of developing include Air-to-Ground (ATG) network, ATG-4 system, Ku-band satellite solution, Gogo Ground to Orbit and 2Ku, Gogo’s latest technology which uses two Ku-band satellite antennas to offer peak speeds of 70 Mbit/s.
The company’s product offerings include Gogo in-air platform, which offers travellers information, services and entertainment while also allowing the airlines to display airline-specific information. Gogo Text enables passengers to send and receive text message via their mobile phones. Gogo Talk, on the other hand, allows users to make and receive in-air voice calls.
Then there is Gogo Vision, which streams movies and TV shows from an onboard server and Gogo TV, which allows airlines to provide live television content to passenger-owned WiFi-enabled devices.
The company said in a statement, “Using its large portfolio of networks, inflight systems, inflight services and support capabilities, Gogo works with aviation partners on their operational and business needs to meet the current and future demands of their passengers. Worldwide, Gogo has launched various inflight connectivity solutions over the years, which offers passengers an Internet experience comparable to what they experience on the ground.”
Back in 2013, the inflight Internet connectivity provider opened an initial public offering of 11 Mn shares at $17 apiece. Around the same time, Gogo started trading on the NASDAQ Global Select.
As per the TRAI recommendations issued last week, passengers will henceforth have access to inflight Internet and mobile connectivity within the Indian airspace. While WiFi services will be available from the time of take-off, mobile services will be allowed once the aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 metres. Personal electronic devices, however, will have to be in flight mode.