In-flight internet provider Gogo has announced a deal to purchase a 1 Mhz slice of spectrum from competitor LiveTV in order to increase the amount of bandwidth available to their product. The deal is subject to approval by the FCC and is expected to close later in the year. LiveTV had previously designated the spectrum for their Kiteline product, a system that never really took flight and which was formally terminated two years ago.
“In many ways, Gogo has continued to expand its Air-to-Ground network and will soon launch ATG-4, which is expected to significantly improve capacity,” said Gogo’s president and CEO Michael Small. “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.”
Even though this will essentially consolidate the entirety of the spectrum used for Air-to-Ground services into a single company, it seems that allowing this to proceed is still the best option for consumers. There are other competitors – via satellite – also in the space so the theoretical monopoly doesn’t really exist. And that is the only justifiable explanation I can see for the FCC to consider blocking the move.
The biggest surprise, in many ways, is that the deal took this long to reach. LiveTV is still supporting the old Airfone network and customers in a limited manner so there is some income associated with that network. Still, the JetBlue subsidiary has long ago given up expanding the use of that spectrum. In other words, it is sitting largely idle and adding minimal value to the company and to the traveling public. Then again, with only one suitable customer for the spectrum purchase, I can understand taking a bit of time to negotiate a good deal.