Advanced Television

Viasat winning Delta, and hurting Gogo

January 6, 2021

Intelsat has ordered up two new satellites to serve its recently acquired Gogo commercial aviation in-flight service. But Intelsat/Gogo faces continued challenges from Viasat which has announced a major airline contract which damage revenues from the existing Gogo service.

Viasat says it has won a contract to equip more than 300 Delta Airlines with its in-flight connectivity system. The aircraft are narrow-body planes which will start entering service this year. Additionally, Viasat has an option to extend the contract which will include extra aircraft.

Delta has been shifting away from Gogo’s system over the past year or two in favour of what Delta says is a higher-performance Viasat services operate in the Ka-band as compared with Gogo’s Ku-band transmissions.

Gogo, in a January 5th statement said that it would work closely with multiple Wi-Fi suppliers, including both Gogo and Viasat. “Working with multiple partners means we can pair the right technology with the right fleet.”

Gogo currently has contracts covering 575 of Delta’s short to mid-range aircraft and 695 planes flying internationally. Delta’s statement said: “Viasat’s high-speed satellite-powered technology changes the game for what we can offer,” said Glenn Latta, Delta’s MD for in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi. “We now have additional capability and next-gen technology to make sure [passengers] have… the ability to stream the entertainment of your choice on your flight.”

“We are constantly looking for new ways to delight our customers and offer an unparalleled onboard experience,” said Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer, Delta. “In working with Viasat, we gain the tools needed to deepen customer interactions and bring us closer to delivering more personalized in-flight content as well as an ability to consistently provide free, fast, streaming Wi-Fi in the future.”

Viasat, in its statement, said that Gogo’s on-aircraft equipment would be removed and Viasat antennas installed. Viasat has a trio of new more powerful satellites under construction (by Boeing) with each capable of handling 3 Terabits/second throughput.

Viasat added: “Delta is committed to optimize the customer journey, and we’re committed to helping them build a foundation toward a better in-flight internet and entertainment experience,” said Rick Baldridge, president and CEO, Viasat. “We have a proven in-flight connectivity solution that is high-quality, streaming-capable and can scale to meet Delta’s growing customer demand. We’re proud to be part of their connected ecosystem.”

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