American Airlines Lawsuit Suggests It Too Thinks GoGo In-Flight Broadband Sucks

from the monopolies-lecturing-monopolies dept

Over the last five years GoGo has effectively cornered about 80% of the in-flight broadband market, allowing the company to lag a little bit when it comes to giving a damn about customer satisfaction. And while the 3 Mbps per plane is starting to grow a little long in the tooth, the company has been raising prices for the service slowly but dramatically (though filters, throttling, and fake SSL certs are still free of charge).

That's something GoGo CEO Micheal wasn't all that apologetic for last year when fielding complaints that GoGo had effectively mutated into "Comcast at 35,000 feet":
“We’re starting to have millions of users, so it’s getting more and more congested, and we have raised prices, which you typically do when you have more demand than you have supply,” he said. “There’s nothing to apologize for. We have trouble finding a business in America that does anything differently.”
Apparently American Airlines, no stranger to not apologizing for awful service, thinks there's definitely something to apologize for. The airline has filed a lawsuit in Texas (pdf) stating the company will be making use of a contract clause to switch to a better in-flight broadband alternative. The full lawsuit offers a few reasons for the shift, most notably that customers paying an arm and a leg to share 3 Mbps of bandwidth aren't particularly happy about it. Some new satellite-based alternatives are emerging, which American thinks would be a better fit for customers who want the Internet to work:
In contrast with Gogo’s legacy air-to-ground system that uses cell towers, many of these new competitors offer faster and cheaper in-flight connectivity services using satellite-based technology. Whereas Gogo’s system provides 3 Mbps (or at most, 10 Mbps) of bandwidth shared among all users on a flight, and blocks most video content, these new satellite-based services offer 12 Mbps per device—more than enough for passengers to stream music, movies, and television. Also, with antennas facing up to satellites, instead of down to cell towers, these competitors can offer gate-to-gate WiFi access for customers, even over oceans.
Granted some of this is just the laws of physics; delivering a consistent, quality broadband signal at 30,000 feet isn't exactly cheap or easy, and in-flight services regardless of technology will always be relatively expensive and throttled. Still, it's pretty clear there's some captive-market apathy at play for GoGo, which is facing a 2014 class action for violating antitrust law (pdf), and recently settled another class action accusing the company of repeatedly billing customers who thought they were only signing up for one month of service.

American claims this new lawsuit was necessary after GoGo effectively ignored the company's previous notices that it wanted to switch operators. A GoGo SEC filing suggests the company doesn't deny the contract clause exists, but insists the company is working on its own, 2ku-based satellite broadband platform (which should offer closer to 70 Mbps per plane):
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.
In other words, however the lawsuit ends, customers should hopefully see better GoGo service -- just not without a lot of kicking and screaming first. While we wait, we can just enjoy the irony of one of the least liked companies in one of the most despised industries giving lectures on captive market innovation and competition.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 9:40am

    You raise prices to improve service. You don't raise prices when you have no intention of improving the service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Feb 2016 @ 9:42am

    Now that's a problem. After all GoGo falls under 3.5 mibts which is all most Americans will ever need for Netflix. Numbers of people per house be damned. They just need to give each plane an extra 0,5 mbit. No sweat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 9:58am

    Like Zygna versus EA, I can only hope both sides lose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 11:05am

    The Go Go Girls may have a trademark dispute.

    I just wanted to listen to my music collection and I ended up with an expensive and crappy wifi connection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 11:35am

    ...3 Mbps per plane...


    Hope they're not on an Airbus 380; I can just imagine the complaints there!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard, 17 Feb 2016 @ 11:36am

    Competition...

    Wow, look at that! An internet provider faces losing business due to someone else being allowed to offer a superior product, and all of a sudden they can pull 70Mbps out of their arse!

    Something for US states that don't allow competition to think about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Casey, 17 Feb 2016 @ 12:27pm

    The last link does't jibe with the last sentence

    "While we wait, we can just enjoy the irony of one of the least liked companies in one of the most despised industries giving lectures on captive market innovation and competition."

    In looking at the link, for 2015 American wasn't "one of the least liked companies". Looks to be 5th out of 11. Still a failing percentage in terms of ranking, but definitely not least liked. United/Spirit/Frontier have those positions sewn up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 6:36pm

    Holy dog shit, east Texas. Only two things I know of come from Texas, and I don't see no horns on you boy, that kind of narrows it down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nancy, 24 Mar 2016 @ 5:52pm

    Gogo Inflight

    It's terrible, access is impossible and it's so expensive. Never again. I have been using the service since its inception and it keeps getting worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nancy, 24 Mar 2016 @ 5:52pm

    Gogo Inflight

    It's terrible, access is impossible and it's so expensive. Never again. I have been using the service since its inception and it keeps getting worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nancy, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:16am

    Gogo Inflight

    It's terrible, access is impossible and it's so expensive. Never again. I have been using the service since its inception and it keeps getting worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2016 @ 11:54am

    I found this article googling "alternatives to Gogo" because I am on an American Airlines flight right now with an abysmal connection.
    I'm looking forward to the day when technology catches up with air travel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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