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Gogo plans to launch in-flight 5G in 2021

Air-to-ground system will be built upon the in-flight Wi-Fi provider's network of cell towers.

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In-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo plans to launch a 5G network for business and commercial aircraft in 2021.

Gogo will build the new air-to-ground network on top of the company's existing web of towers and use unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4GHz range, the in-flight internet provider said Wednesday.

"We expect to launch Gogo 5G at the same time as the terrestrial telecommunications companies are deploying the same generation of technology on the ground -- a first in the inflight connectivity industry," Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne said in a statement. "Gogo 5G is the next step in our technology evolution and is expected to deliver an unparalleled user experience, pairing high performance with low latency and network-wide redundancy."

5G promises to significantly boost the speed, coverage and responsiveness of wireless networks. It can run between 10 and 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection today, and even quicker than anything you can get with a physical fiber-optic cable going into your house. It'll also boost how fast a device will connect to the network with speeds as quick as a millisecond to start your download or upload. 

Gogo has offered in-flight internet service on several major airlines for years, using an air-to-ground network of cell towers. The Chicago-based company upgraded its system in 2015 with the launch of its 2Ku service, a satellite-based system that use dual antennas dedicated to either data download or upload only.

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