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GoGo to buy Airfone

GoGo to buy Airfone

GoGo to buy Airfone to boost in-flight Wi-Fi

  • Niels Steenstrup, vice president of product, from left, Michael Small, president and CEO and Ash ElDifrawi chief marketing officer of GoGo at the in-flight connectivity company's Itasca headquarters.
Niels Steenstrup, vice president of product, from left, Michael Small,… (Chuck Berman/Tribune file )
May 07, 2012|By Wailin Wong | Tribune reporter

Itasca-based Gogo is buying Airfone from JetBlue AirwaysCorp.’s LiveTV LLC subsidiary, gaining additional spectrum and network infrastructure for its in-flight connectivity services.

Gogo provides Wi-Fi and other types of digital entertainment on carriers including United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Consumers can use their laptops and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as smartphones, to connect to the Web while in the air.

Airfone has been around for decades as an in-flight telephone service provider and has passed through a long string of corporate ownership, including GTE Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. In 2008, Verizon sold Airfone to LiveTV. Now Gogo will acquire Airfone’s network infrastructure, as well as a 1 MHz spectrum license currently held by LiveTV. Gogo already has a 3 MHz license. The company’s network is air-to-ground, meaning it has cellular towers that beam signals to aircraft. The network covers the contiguous U.S. and portions of Alaska.

“Acquiring the 1 MHz spectrum license from LiveTV will play an integral role in our continued expansion activities and help us deliver a performance boost for end users,” Gogo Chief Executive Michael Small said in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and the agreement still needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. Gogo said it expects the transaction to close “later this year” if it wins the green light from the FCC.

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