Inflight connectivity provider Gogo to open tech centre in Chennai

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on January 24, 2018

Anand Chari, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, Gogo Inc   -  T.E. Raja Simhan

Bullish on potential in India after TRAI’s move to allow telephony, Internet services on domestic flights

Gogo Inc, a $700-million US-based inflight connectivity provider, will open an engineering and software development centre in Chennai. It plans to provide its service to various airlines in India after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week issued recommendations to allow both telephony and Internet services on domestic flights.

The Chennai centre, which will come up at DLF IT Park, will be operational by April with around 30 employees. By year-end it will employ around 100 people. It will be Gogo’s biggest technology centre outside its headquarters in Chicago, where there are around 1,000 employees and another at Denver (300 people), said Anand Chari, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, Gogo.

The centre here will support Gogo’s inflight connectivity technology development and engineering efforts, and the marketing efforts with India-based airlines as market for inflight services opens up in the region, he told BusinessLine.

Access to good talent pool and proximity to growing customer base in Asia Pacific and EMEA region makes Chennai an ideal location to set up the centre, he said.

Global services

Globally, Gogo has 19 commercial airline partners and provides services and solutions to over 3,000 commercial aircraft and nearly 4,200 business aircraft. It started offering broadband connectivity using nearly 250 cell towers in air routes over 48 states in the US and Canada. As market expanded, airlines wanted connectivity in international waters, and this is being provided through a network of nearly 20 satellites, he said.

Globally, Delta Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Australia and Japan Airlines use Gogo’s services. “India is our next major destination. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in the aviation industry. With TRAI recommendations last week, we are bullish on India,” he said.

As part of an apex committee, for the last three years Gogo was one of the companies actively working with Indian government on inflight connectivity service in aircraft, he said.

At present, IFC services are not permitted over Indian airspace. The services are switched off as soon as aircraft enters the Indian airspace. Many Indian carriers have reportedly shown keen interest in IFC and advanced flight safety services. Many countries have given rights to satellite service providers for IFC in aviation sector, says a TRAI consultation paper on IFC, issued in October.

IFC services

There are mainly two kinds of IFC services — Internet services generally through Wi-Fi onboard and mobile communication services.

Globally, the number of connected commercial aircraft is expected to grow from 5,300 in 2015 to 23,100 in 2025. About 5,000 aircraft will offer both Wi-Fi and cellular options. Since 2007, in-flight communication services have been introduced by airlines in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, West Asia and South America, the TRAI report said.

Published on January 24, 2018

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