A U.S. service provider will soon start building a Canadian wireless network allowing airline passengers to use the Internet. But it won’t be ready for a year

Internet on an airliner coming to Canada

Canadians used to using their mobile devices for Internet service flying over other countries will get the chance to do it over their home and native land as well.

However, they’ll have to wait about a year to do it.

Gogo, which provides air-to- ground wireless service in the U.S. for a number of airlines including Air Canada, said Tuesday it will start building a network here in the fourth quarter so airlines can turn their planes into hotspots at 30,000 feet or so.

After buying access, customers who have Wi-Fi devices will be able to connect to the Internet, make calls or receive streamed content.

The announcement came after Gogo was issued a subordinate licence to use wireless spectrum in the 3 MHz band the company got from SkySurf Canada Communications Inc.
(A Gogo antenna array. Gogo photo)
 
Headquartered in Broomfield, Col., Gogo said in a news release it expects to begin offering service to airlines and business aircraft flying over Canada by the end of next year.

Typically passengers buy connectivity: Usually Gogo charges US$14.95 for a 24-hour pass, which is sometimes discounted. (Right now its US$12.70.) A unlimited monthly pass costs $39.95, although some airlines offer a discount rate of US$34.95.

Gogo’s Web site says devices with virtual private networks can be used on the service, although it cautions that VPNs aren’t inherently secure.

The company said it couldn’t offer more details about its Canadian plans because it is about to go public and is in a mandated quiet period.

However, in a news release it said the Canadian network will operate in the same frequency as Gogo’s existing wireless network in the U.S., so it will be able to offer seamless service on cross-border flights.

The statement said the network will focus initially on Canadian routes served by Gogo’s existing U.S. and Canadian commercial airlines. That would include Air Canada, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, SU Airways and United Airlines.

An Air Canada spokesman wouldn’t commit to the airline offering service here, saying that “we continue to evaluate the technology.”

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