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Next year Delta Airlines flyers will start noticing their sluggish inflight internet connections getting a lot faster. Delta announced on Wednesday that it is upgrading more than 250 planes that fly its long-haul domestic, Latin America and Caribbean routes with Gogo’s new 2Ku connectivity, boosting overall broadband capacity on its planes to 70 Mbps.
I say capacity, not speed, because 70 Mbps is the connection to the airplane, which [company]Gogo[/company] in turn divides up among passengers who pay for the service, just as your home Wi-Fi router splits your broadband connection to all of your devices. Still, 70 Mbps is a huge improvement over Gogo’s current service, which essentially uses a meager 3 Mbps 3G connection to serve an entire cabin full of passengers.
2Ku supplements Gogo’s ground-to-air network – essentially a CDMA network pointed at the sky – with satellite capacity from SES and Intellisat. Upgrading to 2Ku requires an aircraft retrofit, however, so the airlines are only gradually moving over to the new service. Gogo says it now has six airlines either trialing or committed to deploying 2Ku on a total of 300 planes.
[company]Virgin Atlantic[/company] has already signed up for 2Ku, but [company]Delta[/company] is the first major domestic airline customer to hop on board. The airline will upgrade its first aircraft in 2016, though overhauling all 250 planes will take several years. Delta said it plans to equip new international aircraft with 2Ku as they enter its fleet.
Gogo hasn’t revealed any details on pricing yet, and it may choose to charge a premium over its already expensive rates to tap the faster network. That might be a turn-off for some people, but the typical Gogo user tends to be a business traveller whose company foots the bill.