On a recent flight out to California, I remarked on Twitter how incredibly slow the Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi system. I had a hard time keeping track of the election results; even using Twitter was painfully slow. Now American Airlines says it’s working with a new partner to add faster Wi-Fi.
Bloomberg said American Airlines is now working with ViaSat, a company that also helps JetBlue with its in-flight Wi-Fi system, to install faster Wi-Fi options on 500 planes. Gogo is still contracted to update American Airlines planes, too, it’s just no longer the sole provider of the technology.
American Airlines and Gogo began butting heads earlier this year, when American Airlines filed a lawsuit against Gogo for no longer offering the fastest speeds and the best prices. American Airlines said at the time that ViaSat offered faster technology that “materially improves on Gogo’s air-to-ground system.” ViaSat can offer speeds up to 12Mbps per device, very reasonable for most tasks, while Gogo offers an entire plane between 3Mbps and 10Mbps to share.
Competition is better for consumers
Frankly, I’m excited to see airlines start to adopt competing technologies. Gogo has long been the scorn of air travelers who cough up fees only to be met with unsatisfactory internet speeds. On my aforementioned flight, for example, I had to pay upwards of $30 for Wi-Fi across the country. After I made a complaint, Gogo said it would issue a refund.
With competitors, Gogo will be required to step up its game, or risk losing business from American Airlines and others.