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Gogo Plans More In-Flight Internet Options

The FCC released Public Notice (DA 12-963) on June 19, requesting comment on an application from AC BidCo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gogo, Inc., and LiveTV, to assign LiveTV's one megahertz of 800 MHz commercial aviation air-to-ground radiotelephone service license to Gogo. The applicants state that Gogo can combine the additional spectrum with its existing three megahertz commercial air-to-ground license “to satisfy rapidly increasing customer demand and intensive bandwidth use.” 

Assignment of LiveTV's license to Gogo will require a waiver of Section 22.853 of the FCC Rules prohibiting an individual or entity from holding, directly or indirectly, a controlling interest in licenses authorizing the use of more than three megahertz of spectrum, either shared or exclusive. 

The Commission previously said it would “consider a waiver of the eligibility rule based on a showing that market conditions and other factors would favor common control of more than three megahertz without resulting in a significant likelihood of substantial competitive harm.” The applicants said market conditions justify a waiver “due to increased consumer expectation for in-flight broadband services and competition from satellite providers.”

Integration of the assigned spectrum will also require waivers of two technical operational rules regarding emission limitations and frequency stability. 

The deadline for petitions to deny is July 3, 2012, the deadline for oppositions is July 13, 2012, and replies are due July 20, 2012. 

The day before the FCC Public Notice was released, Gogo and SES issued a press release announcing the companies have “signed a strategic memorandum of understanding with the goal of bringing high-speed, satellite-delivered Internet access to passengers aboard commercial airliners.”

Gogo plans to use Ku-band transponders on current and future SES multi-beam satellites serving the continental U.S., the Atlantic Region and Europe. 

“By partnering with SES, Gogo aims to provide the reliable and seamless satellite coverage our current and prospective airline partners must have to meet airline passengers’ demands for high-quality, high-speed Internet access on the fly,” said Gogo president and CEO, Michael Small. “With the addition of a trusted satellite operator and Ku-band connectivity solution, Gogo is well positioned to provide a broad range of airlines and aircraft with a variety of technology solutions. Whether it’s Gogo’s exclusive air to ground and ATG-4 technologies, SES’s Ku-band satellites or, Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band satellite technologies, we plan to offer a full range of connectivity solutions for any aircraft mission.”

Gogo expects to be able to install Ku-band equipment on commercial aircraft as early as 4Q 2012. The satellite technology is expected to be used on international flights flying transatlantic routes as well as region fleets flying within Europe and the United States. 

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.