Next time you hop on a flight, your WiFi options are probably going to look a little different.
GoGo Inc, the heavyweight that powers United, British Airways, and American Airlines, just sold its in-flight WiFi division to a satellite company called Intelsat.
And that might be really good for the future of your mid-flight live-tweeting.
It’s a rough time for the in-flight WiFi biz
There are 3 major players, and none of them are doing too hot:
- Gogo says its per-day use plunged 91% this spring.
- Global Eagle, which works with Southwest and Turkish Airlines, recently filed for bankruptcy.
- JetBlue partner Viasat has also seen its earnings stumble (though it’s the only company slightly beating investor expectations).
That’s speeding up a larger trend
GoGo is still the biggest player in the space. Until recently, it used an old-school system called “air to ground,” which basically works like your phone: it connects to cell towers through an antenna.
But recently, Viasat has been wooing airlines with cheaper and faster service.
Unlike GoGo, Viasat is more than just a WiFi provider — it also has its own satellite biz. That means it can use satellites to supply WiFi on the cheap.
And there’s more where that came from
GoGo’s buyer, Intelsat, already has a ton of its own satellites. In theory, it can use those to beat the speeds of Viasat.
And because GoGo is already so huge, that could mean a new renaissance of free in-flight WiFi.