American Airlines has said it wants to drop Gogo Inflight as its provider of in-flight Internet and switch to ViaSat, a rival US-based service.
The airline filed a lawsuit in Texas court about this on Friday, according to The Star-Telegram. It said it wants to activate what it says is an escape clause in its contract with Gogo, its wifi provider on many domestic routes.
It's hard to tell from the outside if this lawsuit is a negotiating strategy or a final decision by American. Gogo will make a counter-offer to try to keep the airline's business, it told The Star-Telegram.
UPDATE: Gogo has contacted Tnooz to say:
"Earlier this month, American notified Gogo that it considers a competitor’s connectivity service to offer a material improvement over our early-generation air-to-ground service, with respect to a portion of American’s fleet representing approximately 200 aircraft.
"We plan to submit a competing proposal to install our latest satellite technology - 2Ku - on this fleet. We believe that 2Ku is the best performing technology in the market and look forward to discussing our offer with American."
Gogo has led the market in installing in-flight Internet services. But its original technology is sluggish compared to many land-based alternatives. That sluggishness is opening a gap in the market for rivals like ViaSat and Panasonic Avianoics to exploit -- if they can provide faster service at a similar cost.
ViaSat, whose other clients include JetBlue and Virgin American, may be about to score a coup Down Under. The Australian reports that Qantas may announce a deal with ViaSat to bring in-flight Internet to its passengers when it discusses its financial results next week.
Last week, ViaSat said it plans to launch new satellites that will increase its throughput and geographic coverage.
Another main competitor in this market is Panasonic Avionics.
Yesterday, Panasonic said that in April is expected to open access to a new satellite that promises a 500% increase in internet bandwidth, providing as much 200 megabytes-per-second on many routes in North America and Europe.
Airlines that already use Panasonic won't have to install new equipment. The cost is half Panasonic's current rates for providing internet via more traditional methods, says Travel Weekly.
Gogo is trying to catch up. Last August it received final regulatory approval for new antennas that promise to more than double its internet speeds, up to 70 megabytes-per-second, and can be used when flying over water, unlike the older equipment. Aeromexico, United, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and other airlines are having the so-called 2ku equipment installed on about 500 aircraft total this year.
Details on the American Airlines lawsuit against Gogo at The Star-Telegram.
Earlier on Tnooz: Faster wifi at 39,000ft is due soon in the US, after watchdogs give OK
NB:Air passenger browsing her smartphone image via Shutterstock.