Wow!  American Airlines May Be Dumping Gogo

I woke up this morning to some surprising news (to me) that American Airlines was not only suing their in-flight Internet partner, Gogo, but that they were also considering a switch to a different provider.

A bit of history is probably in order here. American was one of the first Gogo customers and was aggressive early on rolling out connectivity on a decent chunk of their fleet. Back then, Delta was really the only other airline aggressively rolling out WiFi.  Fast forward to present day and the vast majority of airplanes in the US have some form of Wifi onboard.

The Star-Telegram is reporting that American has filed suit against Gogo:

The Fort Worth-based company filed a lawsuit in district court in Tarrant County on Friday against Gogo, its current Internet provider for in-flight Wi-Fi, saying it has notified Gogo it has found a faster Internet service. In the suit, American says its contract with Gogo allows it to renegotiate or terminate its agreement if another company other than Gogo offers a better service.

It’s a little odd to me that American Airlines chose to file suit here as opposed to just notifying Gogo or exercising some sort of option in the contract.  A lawsuit seems to indicate a larger disagreement between the two parties.  That’s odd in that American hasn’t really shown the desire to spend money on upgrading their in-flight internet options anytime recently.

As much as I’m a big American Airlines fan, I think Gogo is the one taking the high road here:

“We have no comment on the merits of this litigation, but we would like to note that American is a valued customer of ours and that we look forward to resolving the disagreement regarding contract interpretation that led to this declaratory judgment action,” Gogo said in a statement late Monday night.

According to its contract, Gogo is allowed to submit a competing proposal which Gogo said it intends to do related to its satellite technology, 2Ku.

“We believe that 2Ku is the best performing technology in the market and look forward to discussing our offer with American,” Gogo said.


What Does This Mean For Customers?

Don’t expect faster internet on an AA flight anytime soon.  American has over 600 planes and it took many years to get them all outfitted for Gogo.  In theory, they would need different equipment installed on each plane to use a competitor like ViaSat or even the 2Ku solution that Gogo offers.  I saw the 2Ku system at APEX earlier this year and it definitely looks impressive.  But, my basic understanding is that it would require at least two new antennas per plane.

If American did decide to head down a new path they would likely need to take each plane out of service for some short period of time.  This is likely to be coordinated with other service checks each plane is scheduled for, stretching out any timeline.  Additionally, it’s unclear to me at this time who would be paying for the hardware so that could further slow down a fleet-wide rollout.

I may be among the minority, but I haven’t really run into many Gogo issues.  I’ve heard from folks who have serious issues, and I do believe the speed issues are real.  For me, though, I always seem to have enough e-mail to get caught up on while in flight.  For me, uploading pictures to blog posts is about the biggest bandwidth hog I practice.  For sure, it’s not a great experience on Gogo. But, I don’t do much else in the way of needing a big pipe (like VPNs, accessing files via Dropbox or e-mail via Gmail, etc).

WiFi speed is a real problem.  More people using more devices on more planes has led us to be hungry for more.  And, the ViaSat and Panasonic products are faster when they work.  I’ve heard phenomenal things about JetBlue’s service.  Conversely, I have firsthand experience on United with both companies.  That firsthand experience has been especially painful, with frequent instances where the Wifi doesn’t work at all.  I’d certainly take a slower, more reliable connection at those times.

In the end, it’s great to see American Airlines talking about upgrading this technology, I just don’t think it’ll be anytime soon.

I’d still love to have been a fly on the wall of the discussions that lead to the lawsuit….

The post Wow!  American Airlines May Be Dumping Gogo was published first on Pizza in Motion.

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