The Hustle

In-flight WiFi is in crisis — which could be good for everyone else

A satellite company just bought the WiFi division of GoGo, Inc.


September 4, 2020

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:

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.

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