Gogo begins flight checks of 5G antennas

The first two Gogo 5G antennas will be installed on a tower in the Midwest. (Gogo Business Aviation)

Gogo Business Aviation has begun flight tests of antennas for its next-generation 5G network, the Colorado-based Inflight Connectivity (IFC) service provider said in a June 22 press release.

On the ground network side, the first two 5G antennas were installed on a tower so that the company can begin prototype testing of the 5G antenna towers. Originally slated for this year, Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne stated during their March first quarter conference call that a supply chain delay caused by a microchip supplier ultimately resulted in the 5G network being postponed until 2022.

“The tests we conducted and successfully passed confirm what we modeled when we originally announced we were building a 5G network,” said Mike Syverson, senior vice president of engineering at Gogo Business Aviation, in a statement. “From testing so far, we now know that Gogo 5G will be better than we originally thought.”

Another 5G network milestone announced by Gogo is the completion of the development of its 5G Aircard prototypes and the recently completed coast-to-coast flight test of its 5G belly antennas. The first flight test with a connection between the aircraft’s 5G antennas and the ground tower’s 5G antennas was also recently completed. According to Gogo, an end-to-end call was also completed using a 5G SIM card from the on-board equipment “to the cellular site, through the data center to the internet and back”.

“We checked that our systems could communicate with each other,” said Syverson. “The antennas can communicate with the cell site, which in turn can communicate with the data center. There is a lot of software development going on to put these pieces together and everything works very well.”

Technicians install the first two Gogo 5G antennas on a cell tower. (Gogo Business Aviation)

While attending the recent Connected Aviation Intelligence 5G panel, Jim MacDougall, vice president of product management at Gogo Business Aviation, said the company plans to have a 5G test network of 10 locations available by the end of the year, followed by a full scale -Start in the US by the second half of 2022.

“Each antenna uses beamforming to provide an enhanced experience, and by sharing the licensed and unlicensed spectrum, we ensure customers get the best possible experience even in congested airspace over densely populated areas,” said MacDougall.

Gogo expects its nationwide 5G network to be available in the second half of 2022.

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