“Gogo 5G is going to be better than we originally thought it would be,” says Gogo SVP of engineering
In-flight internet service provider Gogo is in the test stage of deploying a 5G air-to-ground network in the United States, and it is using Airspan’s 5G massive multiple-input multiple-output and Open RAN software to do so.
Gogo expects the nationwide 5G air-to-ground (ATG) network to be available for aircraft operating within the contiguous United States, in the second half of 2022.
The two companies say they have been working together closely on development of the software and network elements, with Airspan specifically designing ATG beam profiles for its massive MIMO antennas that support link ranges greater than 186 miles and account for the Doppler effect at speeds greater than 750 miles per hour.
“We are working closely with Gogo to help them bring 5G technology to aviation. With aircraft traveling at over 500 MPH and at 35,000-40,000 feet, there are numerous challenges to provide reliable connectivity. We believe Airspan engineers are the best in the industry, which is why Gogo has chosen Airspan as one of its key 5G partners,” said Airspan President and CEO Eric Stonestrom.
“The tests we’ve conducted and successfully passed validate what we modeled when we initially announced we would build a 5G network,” said Mike Syverson, SVP of engineering for Gogo. “There is a lot of software development to put those pieces together, and it’s all working very well, as we continue to work closely with Airspan and our other technology partners to test and buildout our nationwide ATG network.”
Gogo said recently that it has installed its first two 5G antennas on a tower, for prototype testing of system performance. It already has prototype 5G air cards, the company said, and it has successfully conducted a test flight that was able to establish a connection between 5G antennas mounted on the belly of a plane and 5G antennas on the ground tower. In addition, it has achieved an end-to-end call using a 5G SIM card, and Gogo said it has also completed coast-to-coast flight testing of the belly-mounted 5G antennas themselves, to validate their performance.
“What we’ve done is validate that our systems can talk to one another,” Syverson said. “The antennas can talk to the cell site, which in turn can talk to the data center. … Through the testing we’ve done so far, we now know that Gogo 5G is going to be better than we originally thought it would be,” he added.