Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet service-which recently celebrated its 1 millionth customer-has begun test trials on Air Canada's Toronto-Los Angeles and Montreal-Los Angeles routes. "Following the test period, which runs until Jan. 29, 2010, Air Canada will analyze usage and customer feedback before it proceeds with introduction of the service on other routes," Aircell said Nov. 19.
"Initially, the Gogo system will be powered by Aircell's existing network and only available in the continental U.S. in order to make Air Canada's rollout" faster, said Aircell, which uses ground-to-airplane technology for its Wi-Fi. However, "Air Canada intends to extend the system on other routes in [North America] with the deployment of the Canadian Air-To-Ground (ATG) network. Aircell plans to collaborate with the Canadian ATG licensee in supporting the establishment of a Canadian ATG network and in facilitating the fleetwide deployment of Air Canada's onboard connectivity service."
"This initial phase is intended to get our customers' feedback about this exciting new service," Louise McKenven, senior marketing director for Air Canada, said in a statement. "The ultimate rollout of our in-flight Internet service will be finalized pending the outcome of the trial period as well as obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals and the development of ground infrastructure in Canada to provide a domestic network."
Customers can access the service using their own Wi-Fi-equipped laptops at a cost of $9.95 U.S. per flight, or use handheld devices at a cost of $7.95 per flight.
"Starting on only a handful of planes a year ago, availability and usage have expanded rapidly, and Gogo served its 1 millionth customer in October 2009. At the current rate of expansion and with users fast approaching 100,000 per week, the 2 millionth user is now expected to be reached in January 2010," Aircell said in a separate Nov. 19 news release.