GTO Launch

Friday September 13, 2013 / Posted by Madhu U.

Virgin America and Gogo earlier this week announced our next leap forward in a long-standing partnership of innovation. Virgin America will be the launch partner for a new Gogo technology that could make in-flight WiFi up to six times faster than it is now. Gogo, which provides in-flight WiFi service for Virgin America, is launching a new system called GTO (Ground to Orbit), which uses both satellites and Gogo’s ATG system to connect guests on our flights. We’re proud to be the first airline to install this innovative new system on the first plane in the second half of 2014.

So what will this mean for Virgin America guests? Much faster connection speeds and greater WiFi reliability on board our aircraft. We were the first U.S. carrier to offer WiFi on every plane in our fleet. And we know how important it is for our guests to stay connected. With GTO, guests will find connection speeds of more than 60 Mbps – more than six times faster than what is available today.

GTO is a first-of-its-kind hybrid system that connects the aircraft to a satellite for receiving data, while data from the aircraft will go to the ground through Gogo’s ATG system. The satellite link means faster connection speeds while the ATG return link takes advantage of Gogo’s robust ground-based infrastructure.

 Gogo GTO Antenna (Image courtesy of Gogo)

Virgin America has a long history of going first with Gogo. We were the first airline to offer fleetwide WiFi in 2009 with Gogo’s ATG.  Last year, we were the launch customers for Gogo’s ATG-4, which boosted in-flight connection speeds from 3.1 Mbps to 9.8 Mbps, and we’re installing ATG-4 antennas on our fleet at the rate of one aircraft per week.

GTO involves outfitting our aircraft with a revolutionary new antenna, pictured above, that allows more robust satellite connectivity. An added bonus is the new, slim antenna causes much less drag on the aircraft and therefore reduces fuel burn, compared with today’s antennas.