By Alwyn Scott
NEW YORK Oct 28 Gogo Inc said on
Monday it had agreed to provide Japan Airlines Co Ltd
with in-flight Internet service on the airline's domestic fleet
of 77 aircraft, marking Gogo's first significant international
contract, according to the company's chief executive.
Shares of Gogo were up 10.6 percent at $17.94 in afternoon
trade in New York on Monday.
The in-flight Internet provider, based in Itasca, Illinois,
said the JAL service would use Gogo's satellite technology and
begin operating by mid-2014.
The deal is another step in a global race to provide better
Internet connections on more planes, especially over oceans,
using satellites and aircraft-mounted antennas that swivel as a
plane flies to keep tracking the satellite beam.
Gogo's current system is largely ground-based and operates
mainly in the United States, where it is the largest in-flight
connectivity provider, with about 80 percent market share of
JAL will be among the first airlines to employ Gogo's
satellite system operating in the so-called Ku-band frequencies,
Gogo Chief Executive Michael Small said in an interview.
Gogo offers Ku-band in conjunction with satellite services
companies SES SA of Luxembourg and IntelSat SA
Delta Air Lines Inc also has contracted to use the
Ku-band service on all 170 of its planes that fly international
routes, Small said, noting that either Delta or JAL would be the
first to offer the service to customers.
Without satellite systems, airline passengers had limited or
no internet access over oceans. But that's about to change as
more airlines sign up for satellites.
A competing satellite internet standard using a slightly
different Ka-band frequency spectrum is scheduled to begin
operations over the next few years. JetBlue Airways Corp
and United Continental Holdings Inc are
scheduled to roll out Ka-band internet service using a ViaSat
Inc satellite by the end of 2013, pending regulatory
ViaSat began operating its first Ka-band broadband satellite
in January and plans to launch a second in 2016. The system
offers many more times the bandwidth of Ku-band systems, said
Don Buchman, ViaSat's director of mobile broadband.
JetBlue plans to offer broadband free to passengers checking
email or doing light web browsing and charge for upgrades if
passengers want to stream video, he said.
United is equipping long-haul international planes with
Ku-band systems and U.S.-based flights with Ka-band. It also is
offering passengers tiered service, with passengers paying a
$2-$5 premium to get faster broadband. United says it also uses
Gogo's air-to-ground service on some routes.
Small said the differences between Ka-band and Ku-band are
minor and the Ku-band system is available now.
JAL's deal also makes that airline the first Japanese
carrier to offer domestic in-flight internet, the airline said.
Small said Gogo aims to increase the number of aircraft
using its system in the United States and is working on