The era of the Airfone air-to-ground radiotelephone system comes to an end on December 31 when Aircell, the new owner of the Airfone network, plans to shut the service down. Aircell purchased the Airfone network from LiveTV earlier this year and will use the Airfone frequencies to expand and meet growing demand for its Gogo and Gogo Biz airborne broadband Internet services. The Airfone frequencies are adjacent to those used by the Gogo service.
The total 4-MHz slice of frequency spectrum that was the subject of the FCC’s 800-MHz auction is the same spectrum that has been allocated for air-to-ground calling for the last 20 years. The original idea was for as many as five competitors to offer air-to-ground calling services in flight, but only three players eventually emerged–and none was able to make money.