Voice Coming Soon to Aircell Airborne Broadband
At the AEA show yesterday, Aircell unveiled upcoming voice capability for its Gogo Biz airborne broadband Internet system. When the new voice capability goes live later this year, it will be combined with Gogo Biz Internet in a single equipment package, according to Aircell, delivering high-quality voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone service along with broadband Internet access at speeds equivalent to many ground-based Internet services. Unlike satcom-based voice services, Gogo Biz’s voice service doesn’t limit the number of users per available channel because VoIP essentially allows almost unlimited numbers of calls. Aircell's air-to-ground network is slated to offer data delivery speeds of up to 10 megabits per second to the aircraft, about four times faster than the previous system, with airline service upgrades scheduled for implementation in about a year. Aircell plans to announce the speed upgrade timeframe for Gogo Biz in the coming months. Along with the voice announcement, Aircell also unveiled a new smartphone handset that runs the increasingly popular Android operating system. “What we’re introducing is the first smartphone specifically designed for airplanes,” said John Wade, Aircell executive v-p and general manager of business aviation services. The handset features a touchscreen with separate haptic feedback buttons for number entry and a user-facing camera for videoconferencing.