Aircell Takes the Smartphone Airborne

Aviation International News » October 2013
Gogo Talk & Text is available for Apple products this month.
Gogo Talk & Text is available for Apple products this month.
October 4, 2013, 2:55 AM

Aircraft cabin connectivity just keeps getting better and better, and now Aircell has expanded its Gogo Biz Internet connection to include voice capability.

Because Gogo Biz operates on Aircell’s air-to-ground technology, which taps into the ground cellphone network, the company claims “voice calls are among the clearest in aviation, on par with mobile phone calls on the ground.”

As a “two-in-one” service, Gogo Biz offers Internet and voice capabilities from a single system, which can eliminate the need for separate systems, according to the company, “dramatically reducing the equipment requirements and installation costs.” Gogo Biz with voice starts at $134.95 a month, good for 60 voice minutes.

To access the new voice service, Aircell’s new Gogo Text & Talk service works with existing smartphones. Passengers and flight crew can also access the voice service using Aircell’s new cabin handsets. Voice calls are conducted in the aircraft over Wi-Fi (not using the phone’s cellular system) and using the passenger’s own mobile number (not an auto-attendant, two-step dialing or call-forwarding protocol.)

Because service is 100-percent software-based, voice can be added to any standard Gogo Biz equipment package without more hardware, weight or installation downtime. According to Aircell, “This makes Gogo Text & Talk practical for aircraft as small as light jets and turboprops [while] at the same time hundreds of thousands of dollars less expensive than traditional, picocell-based solutions that offer similar capabilities.”

Gogo Text & Talk requires the purchase of a software key for the aircraft’s onboard equipment and installation of a free app on the passenger’s smartphone. Service for the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 began October 1; support for select Android devices will begin November 1.

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