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Gogo calls in the cavalry to realise 5G ambitions
Gogo has been working hard to develop a 5G network, which it expects to be available across the US in 2021. Cisco, Airspan Networks and First RF Corp are lending their respective expertise to the project.

Aviation connectivity provider Gogo has named three strategic partners who will play key roles in developing its 5G system and network: Cisco, Airspan Networks, and First RF Corp. A true 5G experience requires every piece of the network and the onboard system hardware, software and antennas to be 5G capable.

“When we announced we were going to build a 5G network for aviation we stated that we would leverage the expertise of US-based companies to help us bring it to life,” says president Sergio Aguirre. “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.”

Cisco, Airspan Networks, and First RF Corp. each will provide necessary elements to Gogo's 5G solution for aviation.

Cisco will provide core network solutions that will power Gogo's nationwide air-to-ground (ATG) 5G network. Cisco was selected for its expertise in providing 4G/5G solutions for some of the world's largest wireless telecommunications networks. Cisco's innovation in network technologies is ideally suited for the advancements Gogo's ATG network requires. Together, Gogo and Cisco will redefine the inflight entertainment and connectivity experience with a high throughput, low latency nationwide 5G network.

Cisco will offer Gogo 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.

The Gogo 5G system will use the same carrier grade technology as the Airspan Air5G product line. The Air5G platform will provide virtualised-RAN base station technology that uses massive MIMO antenna arrays for increased capacity. It also features advanced beamforming and tracking techniques, capable of communicating with an aircraft travelling in excess of 750 miles per hour, at long range.

First RF will bring its extensive advanced antenna and RF systems technology portfolio to deploy a solution that pairs Gogo's existing 3G and 4G networks as well as the new 5G network. First RF will provide belly-mounted airborne multi-band antennas that will connect Gogo's onboard 5G system to the Gogo 5G network on ground. This technology will include complex multiband apertures, advanced beamforming technology, and phased arrays. First RF provides government and commercial customers with premier performance and reliability while maintaining efficiency and responsiveness that is required in the modern marketplace.

Gogo expects the nationwide network to be available in 2021, and will build the 5G network on its existing infrastructure of more than 250 towers and will use unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4GHz range, along with a proprietary modem and advanced beamforming technology. Gogo's 5G infrastructure will support all spectrum types (licensed, shared, unlicensed) and bands (mid, high, low), and will allow Gogo to take advantage of new advances in technology as they are developed. Similar to how wireless carriers provide redundancy across their networks, Gogo will continue to employ its 3G and 4G networks throughout the continental US and in Canada that will provide backup to the 5G network when needed.

In other news, Gogo's Avance systems, Avance L5 and Avance L3, have flown more than 175,000 flights, totalling more than 108 million miles. This total was achieved in just two years following the initial launch of Avance L5 in late 2017. The company currently has more than 1,000 Avance systems, comprising nearly 750 Avance L5 and more than 300 Avance L3 systems, installed and flying across a wide array of business aircraft.

“When we launched the Avance L5, we knew it would delight our customers, but it's surpassed all our expectations,” says president Sergio Aguirre. “We then launched Avance L3 and that system has delivered connectivity to smaller aircraft bringing a customisable connectivity experience to meet the needs of passengers on light jets and turboprops. The great news is that demand from the marketplace continues to be strong for both systems.”

Both systems operate on the Avance platform, a combination of hardware and software that is the foundation of all of Gogo's latest inflight connectivity solutions. Because the Avance systems are software-centric, they enable a new level of remote, cloud-based service and support. With Avance, Gogo can now activate and de-activate features remotely; no licence keys or onsite support are required so Avance L3 customers now have the ability to choose from one of three configuration options with the ability to transition between those options at any given time, without anyone having to step on board an aircraft.

“With Avance, any changes we need to make are all done remotely; something that's never been possible for inflight connectivity systems before now,” Aguirre continues. “It's a significant advancement, and there are no limits on the features that can be added as connectivity technology continues to evolve, since the platform is scalable. In short, Avance is the 'brains onboard' for all of Gogo's new Avance systems.”

In total, at the end of the second quarter, Gogo Business Aviation reported 5,462 aircraft flying with its air-to-ground (ATG) systems onboard and another 5,099 utilising satellite connectivity.

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