Gogo is perhaps best known for providing fliers with wireless Internet access when above the clouds, making long flights a tad less tedious. Soon it will be known for a bit more amongst fliers -- as the service that allows passengers to chat on their phones as if they have regular cellular service, which could be a blessing or a curse depending on the person. Texting will also be made available.
Calling it Text & Talk technology, Gogo introduced the new service today, saying it will work with smartphones to enable voice calls and SMS/MMS messaging. Because of the logistics involved, the service works by leveraging Gogo's air-to-ground connection, routing both voice calls and text message through the WiFi network on the plane.
The functionality comes from using Gogo's related mobile app, which shuttles the text messages and calls off to the relevant parties. This is convenient for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it skirts around FAA regulations requiring devices to have cellular connectivity disabled during takeoff and landing, regardless of new rules allowing the use of electronics during these portions of the flight.
Both iPhones and Android is supported, and public availability is presently slated for the first quarter of 2014, working on any flight that has Gogo network. No information has been provided about how much passengers will pay for this service, however. Said the company's Tony LaMarca: "We tried to find something that worked, but there was nothing that was quite exactly what end users wanted. We looked at a number of solutions and started from scratch."