Gogo‘s upcoming 5G ATG network will require partnerships for a successful buildout. Today at NBAA in Las Vegas the inflight connectivity company announced three companies that will play key roles in developing the technology used by the service. Cisco, Airspan Networks, and FIRST RF Corp. each will provide necessary elements to Gogo’s 5G solution for aviation.
When we announced we were going to build a 5G network for aviation, we stated that we would leverage the expertise of U.S.-based companies to help us bring it to life.The three partners we’re announcing today are on the leading edge of wireless network technology and together we will bring the most capable network and systems in aviation.– Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation
The push for US-based companies is not much of a surprise. Development of the prior version of the ATG-NG network was derailed owing to a dependence on Chinese manufacturer ZTE. With the ongoing political sparring and concerns about 5G network security – especially given the US Government’s use of Gogo networks – the ZTE relationship was doomed. The trio of new partners should not expose such risks.
The core networking components will be provided by Cisco, with what Gogo is calling “a cloud-to-client approach for its 5G network, resulting from Cisco’s investments and commitment to developing cloud applications and services, to help customers unify multi-vendor solutions into a single, standards-based architecture, which will be critical to the Gogo 5G network.”
One key design component of the next generation ATG networks is the individual beam for each connected aircraft. Delivering that at high speed and over long ranges from the towers is no easy feat. For the Gogo 5G network the ground stations will be developed by Airspan, built off the same Air5G technology used for terrestrial operators’ base stations. The Air5G kit features Massive MIMO antenna arrays to increase capacity and advanced beamforming and tracking techniques.
The antenna hardware on the aircraft must also support multiple frequency ranges and the advanced beam forming technologies. FIRST RF will deliver the belly-mount antennae for Gogo to meet this demand. The company has a strong history with delivering reliable and performant hardware to commercial and government customers.
Gogo also reiterated its timeline for development of the 5G network with plans to deploy in 2021, taking advantage of the company’s existing cell tower network and backhaul infrastructure. Some 250+ towers are expected to see the Airspan hardware added to deliver a nation-wide coverage footprint. Like its ATG competition, Gogo’s 5G network will take advantage of unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum to boost capacity in the air, though Gogo will also continue to have its legacy 3G/4G proprietary network as a redundancy and fallback option.
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