In-flight broadband internet provider Gogo announced on Tuesday that it has installed its first two 5G antennas on a tower in the US as it expands its 5G air-to-ground network and onboard services.
The company will now begin testing its systems and Dave Glenn, senior vice president of customer operations for Gogo, said Gogo 5G would be the fourth air-to-ground nationwide network the company has designed and built.
"Deploying this first ground site antenna and leveraging our unparalleled ATG experience over 28 years will enable us to validate our design for a smooth product and service launch," Glenn said.
Mike Syverson, senior vice president of engineering for Gogo, explained that the company has previously worked on 5G air card prototypes and done tests involving a coast-to-coast flight with 5G belly-mounted antennas. Gogo managed to connect 5G antennas on the ground tower to 5G antennas on an aircraft.
The company has done other tests on 5G before, including an "end-to-end call using a 5G SIM card, from the onboard equipment to the cell site, through the data center to the internet, and back."
"What we've done is validate that our systems can talk to one another. The antennas can talk to the cell site, which in turn can talk to the data center. There is a lot of software development to put those pieces together, and it's all working very well," Syverson said.
Gogo is working to build out its 5G network for any airplanes flying within the contiguous US, and plans for its 5G network to be available at some point in 2022.
Gogo announced in 2019 that it was building a 5G network for business and commercial aviation using the more than 250 towers it controls across the US. The 5G initiatives are part of a larger effort by the company to scale up its services so that it can support more airlines and handle more data from flights.