MIAMI — Last Thursday in Gary, Indiana, Gogo took the wrapping off its newest in-flight connectivity solution, 2Ku. So called because of the two Ku band antennas mounted on each aircraft, Gogo claims that this unique arrangement will allow speeds of up to 70 Mbps today and increase to up to 100 Mbps as next generation satellites are launched.

The 2Ku service will compete against other high-speed connectivity options, namely ViaSat’s Ka band satellite connectivity solution. ViaSat’s solution, however, is currently limited to the continental United States as they await additional satellites. Due to its reliance on Ku band satellites, Gogo’s 2Ku will be available globally at launch. Gogo has already confirmed seven airlines for the 2Ku service—AeroMexico, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, GOL, Japan Transocean Air, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

“We’ve been extremely pleased with the performance of 2Ku in flight tests and believe it will be the best performing solution on the market,” said Michael Small, Gogo‘s president and CEO. “As part of our testing, we’ve simultaneously streamed videos on more than 40 devices while providing a great browsing experience on numerous other devices.”

Media were invited for a test flight aboard the “Jimmy Ray”, Gogo’s Boeing 737 flying test bed, to trial the new service and put it through a rigorous set of tests. Running a speed test soon after takeoff produced download speeds of 16.29 Mbps, which was near the peak speed observed by AirwaysNews.

Next, we tried a number of bandwidth intensive applications—Netflix, YouTube, FaceTime, and Skype video calling to name a few. Success was inconsistent. Netflix and YouTube both worked and worked well. Another tester on the flight was able to concurrently stream eight videos from YouTube in HD. Two-way applications were less successful. FaceTime never connected and Skype connected, but audio was choppy and video never appeared.

With the high demand from a group of journalists doing their best to use as much data as possible, it is difficult to pass final judgment on the system, but it did offer a close look into the future of Gogo’s connectivity solutions and a path forward for greater bandwidth in the air. The 2Ku test experience was generally positive, but use under real-world conditions on a plane full of 150-200 people will be the true test for the system.

 

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