Posted on: 28 August 2013 by Mark Howells
Aircell has announced that its Gogo Biz service will expand to include voice capabilities, beginning on 1 October, building on the internet-only service in the business aviation market which was originally launched in 2009.
Gogo Biz operates on Aircell’s air-to-ground technology, which, according to the company, makes its voice calls among the clearest in aviation – on a 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 Aircell says can eliminate the need for separate systems, dramatically reducing equipment requirements and installation costs.
Monthly voice plans for Gogo Biz start at $134.95/month, which includes 60 voice minutes. In flight, passengers and flight crews can use the new Gogo Biz voice capabilities on their own smartphones and/or with Aircell’s new cabin handsets.
Gogo Text & Talk allows passengers to use their own smartphones for calling and texting in flight – with their own mobile number. The application mimics the native features and operation of the passenger’s smartphone. Passengers can use their own contact lists and hands-free devices. Features like Caller ID and call histories are also supported.
Aircell says Gogo Text & Talk is a game-changing service because it operates over Wi-Fi technology (not cellular) and uses the passenger’s own mobile number (not an auto-attendant, two-step dialling or call-forwarding protocol). Because the service is 100% software-based, it can be added to any standard Gogo Biz equipment package without additional hardware, weight or installation downtime.
Available with any Gogo Biz system, Gogo Text & Talk is obtained by purchasing a software key for the aircraft’s onboard equipment and installing a free app on passengers’ smartphones. The service will be available for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 beginning on 1 October. Support for select Android devices will begin on 1 November.
The new Gogo OnePhone is designed to offer superior voice quality and the industry’s most advanced noise reduction technology. Shipments will begin on 15 October.
John Wade, Aircell’s executive vice-president and general manager, commented, “Although inflight internet has captured the world’s interest in recent years, customers never stopped asking for the ability to use their own smartphone – with their own number – to call and text while they fly. We firmly believe in the future of inflight voice service and the role it plays in our ‘always on’ lifestyles. With today’s introduction of voice capabilities for Gogo Biz, a new cabin handset and the ability to use personal smartphones, customers have more options than ever,” he concluded.