Gogo Inflight Internet Flying with Gogo 2Ku broadband in-flight Wi-Fi - Gogo Concourse
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Flying with Gogo 2Ku broadband in-flight Wi-Fi

This past weekend, a team from Gogo met with two writers from the Runway Girl Networkone of the few industry publications that focuses entirely on the passenger experience portion of aviation. These two writers joined us for a Delta Air Lines flight that was operated by a plane equipped with our 2Ku satellite Internet system.

For those who are new to our blog, 2Ku is a system for bringing the Internet to aircraft at previously unheard of speeds. The system offers global coverage, as well as a whole host of advantages for airlines. Our plane for the early morning flight from New York JFK to Miami International was a Delta 737-800. At first glance, the plane looks like every other plane parked at the gate:

However, when you look closer, you can spot a “dome” on top of the fuselage:

The equipment under this dome is the secret to our 2Ku technology. The dome covers our dual antenna system, allowing the plane to communicate with a variety of satellites positioned over 22,000 miles away. These antennas receive and transmit the data to and from the plane, all while flying at well over 550 mph. The system even needs to work when the plane is turning during flight, taxiing, take-off and landing.

 

While waiting for our plane to depart, we enjoyed watching something none of us had ever seen in all our years of flying – 100’s of trays of USPS mail being loaded.

Right after we left the gate, the Gogo 2Ku system became available, and our team was connected in around a minute. We did this using our existing accounts, and pre-saved passes. Jason immediately started a Periscope broadcast, and was able to livestream our take-off all the way up to cruising altitude to his followers and fans.

The quality of the stream was reported by his viewers as being very good, with only the occasional pixelation, something you also encounter when streaming on the ground. To put this perspective, this live stream took place at the same time our plane was turning onto the runway, accelerating, then taking off. It was a real pleasure watching him broadcast live from the plane, and at one point, I was even able to tune into his Periscope live broadcast and watch him broadcasting right next to me.

The geek in me couldn’t help but be astounded by the distance this broadcast had to travel to make it from his phone, up through our on-board equipment, off the 2Ku antenna to a satellite thousands of miles away, then from the satellite down to a ground based teleport, then on to the Twitter data center, then back the other way around to the plane. The technology making this possible is nothing short of amazing.

Next up – the obligatory speed tests: Our two reviewers did a variety of these, using different test sites, all providing excellent results. This test was posted to Twitter by Jason.

Seth used his free T-Mobile hour of access to test using Fast.com, a speed test powered by Netflix. As you can see, this speed is more than sufficient for anything you’d need to do at 36,000 feet.

 


With speed tests out of the way, our reviewers moved on to streaming media, testing Netflix and other entertainment services.

 

One of the more entertaining uses of the streaming entertainment (no pun intended) was comparing two versions of the same channel – one streaming in HD over Gogo 2Ku, and one streaming to the seatback entertainment screen using the satellite TV system.

 

Before we started our descent, Seth broadcast his own Periscope – from “FL360”, aviation slang for flight level 36,000 feet. Because the 2Ku system relies on satellites instead of an air-to-ground network, we are able to provide coverage for a much longer portion of the flight. For our flight, this meant staying connected all the way up to the gate in Miami.

Our plane after the flight, parked at its gate in Miami – once again, you’ll spot the radome on top. For this plane, there are actually two radomes – one for the 2Ku satellite internet service, and one smaller dome towards the rear for the satellite television service.

After the flight, both Jason and Seth posted their own separate reviews on Runway Girl Network. You can read these for yourself: Jason review or Seth review. Seth also recapped his flight in a short video posted to YouTube and embedded below:

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