Gogo Office Downtown Chicago Logo
Imagine flying across the world being able to stream your favorite Netflix shows, YouTube videos, download large app updates and live stream a soccer match. That is the promise of Gogo’s new all satellite based 2Ku in-flight WiFi hardware. The technology available from Gogo up until now has either been air-to-ground or ATG, ATG4 with double the modems and triple the bandwidth and a single Ku satellite connection.
Installation of 2Ku on Gogo’s 737
Disclaimer: Gogo provided travel and accommodations to visit Chicago. I am a VZWBuzz Lifestyle Blogger. I have not been compensated for the post or social media coverage. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Last year during my first visit to Gogo’s previous headquarters in Illinois, everyone in the presentation room was using a Ku satellite downstream connection. That one satellite downstream connection was fast enough for about forty of us covering the event live via social media.
Gogo’s 2Ku antennas debuted during the Airline Experience Expo or APEX 2014 and then shown off at APEX 2015 in Portland, Oregon. A few months later in November, Gogo was ready to show off their new (Boeing 737-500 “Jimmy Ray” N321GG link to Tweet of airplane photo) airplane with 2Ku. Now was their chance to get a small group of people on the Gogo jet to run many real world tests in real-time.
American Airlines 7,000th Airbus Airplane
My first flight from Las Vegas on American to Phoenix was only the second time I had ever been to that airport. Our arrival was an eye opening ride with a bounce after hitting the runway. I was checking the weather reports around Chicago and could see we were either going to be delayed a few hours in the airport or fly around in circles around the Midwest.
Our incoming flight was delayed due to weather, but somehow arrived a half hour earlier than expected. As you can imagine, everyone jumped out of their chairs and lined up in about six minutes. We boarded the jet to Chicago and were happy to finally be flying from Phoenix.
Utilizing Gogo WiFi on the American Airlines flight allowed me the opportunity to check out our flight progress and what was happening with the crazy storm near Chicago. The storm was moving over O’Hare, but not nearly fast enough for us to land when we were scheduled to arrive.
So the Captain had us circling somewhere over the Midwest along with many other airplanes that I could see out of the window. After almost two hours of circling, we were either going to try to land or find another airport, refuel and then fly to Chicago. Our Captain choose to land at O’Hare. It was a very bumpy ride in, but that was to be expected with the storms in the area.
Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown The Loop
Our base of operations this trip would be at the Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown The Loop, a hotel that only opened five months earlier. Everything was fresh and new. I liked that it was not across the street from a fire station like the Hyatt Place Chicago River North is across the river, a few blocks north.
Gogo Downtown Chicago Office With Chris Rauschnot (Photo by Ben Corpuz)
I requested an Uber out front of the hotel, mostly to test their arrival timing. They showed up within five minutes and off I was over to the new Gogo offices across the river heading west.
Gogo CEO Michael Small With 2Ku Satellite Antennas
Gogo Chicago Downtown Office Interior
We toured the new Gogo Inc offices across the Chicago River from the hotel. It is the local office for Twitter, Uber, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and many more. Their new satellite testing space was multiple times larger than the last space I toured. Being able to test more hardware concurrently should help Gogo engineers considerably.
Gogo Network Operations Center 2015
Gogo N.O.C. Tour 2015
Gogo N.O.C. Tour 2014
Satellite technology, rows of servers and testing equipment was upstairs from Gogo’s new Network Operations Center or N.O.C. The N.O.C. is the heart to their entire operation from the management of their cell sites, to satellite connection status and how their payment systems are performing.
Gogo 737-500 “Jimmy Ray” N321GG Jet Tour & 2Ku Flight Test Overview
It was a cloudy and super windy day in Gary, Indiana when the bus Gogo chartered for the group arrived at the private airport. That is where their Boeing 737-500 jet is based. Their most exciting test flight was about an hour away.
Gogo Boeing 737-500 “Jimmy Ray” N321GG Airplane
B Coleman Aviation Gary Chicago International Airport Gogo All Access
Inside of the B Coleman Airport Hangar were several business airplanes, tables and chairs setup with a buffet style lunch. Over a quick meal with a few other Gogo people like Alex Moy, Gogo’s Product Management, Marketing, and business Development Leader, we learned that they were going to show off an additional in-flight entertainment option.
Gogo Airplane Jet On “Jimmy Ray”
Once we were above the clouds at about 10,000 ft, that is when everyone turned on their laptops and smartphones. Browser tab upon tab of streaming content was being consumed while speed tests were performed. All of the while, a few streaming channels of live TV looked lag free with no pixelization.
I averaged over 20 Mbps down on the three tests that I ran. My upload speed test looked to have been shaped to preserve bandwidth for those streaming Periscope live feeds. Most impressive was the live sports I was able to watch on my iPhone via the Safari web browser sans any special app.
Gogo Jet Flight Path Screen Shot From Flightaware
Flightaware Gogo Jet Flight Path Map
Gogo Live Action Video Screenshot
Before I knew it, an hour passed and we were descending back through the clouds. It is a ride I will not soon forget, largely as I had been preparing months for it.
Gogo Inflight WiFi Partners 2015
The after flight dinner event was a few hours later and atop a hotel in the northern part of Chicago. Even though it was a cold and windy night, the kind where you could tell winter was coming, the outside terrace with a fire pit was nice and toasty. The fire cyclones flanking the fire pit added for an extra bit of excitement that night.
Gogo All Access Day After Event Chalk Drawing
As I mentioned before, Uber is locally based in the same building as Gogo. They were great for visiting various spots in Chicago. Have you ridden in an Uber? If not, use my code 6vf3t which is worth $15 for your first ride. I also earn a free ride for helping to sign up new accounts.
Skydeck Chicago Willis Tower From Above
Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago Tour
I wanted to see the Skydeck atop of the Willis Tower (formally the Sears Tower), the Hancock Center Tower, Millennium Park, Cloud Gate and the Chicago River before I had to head back to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for my flight home. Uber was so easy and much better for me to travel around via rather than only walking like I did back in June of last year.
John Hancock Center Chicago
Each location I visited had new things to see, especially when I went to the Hancock Tower. At the base of the tower was a BestBuy. I went in to see their electronics and that is when I saw a Verizon Destination Store diagonally across the street.
Verizon Destination Store Chicago
I walked passed the Cheesecake Factory, which was difficult to do and found my way into the Verizon Destination Store of Chicago. Two floors of handy gadgets and accessories awaited through the spinning entryway.
I had visited Verizon’s first Destination store last year in the Mall of America and I liked a newer two floor layout. The first floor was mostly about device accessories like backup batteries, Bluetooth headsets, a photo booth to create custom smartphone cases and a plethora of cases from many of the top manufacturers like TYLT and Incipio.
Verizon Destination Store of Chicago
Upstairs was all about smart home tech, home automation, Verizon Wireless business solutions like the Square Stand, smart wearables like the Moto 360 and the always fun Sphero cage.
Time was running out to see the sights around Chicago and it was becoming rush hour. I booked my final Uber back to the Hyatt Place Downtown Chicago The Loop. As soon as I arrived, the driver scheduled to bring me to the airport mentioned that she had been there for only a few minutes. What luck. I checked out, grabbed my luggage and loaded up into the SUV.
Chicago O’Hare is a crazy, one of the world’s busiest, airports. If you ever need to fly there on a domestic or international connection, plan for a few extra hours. My last visit from ORD included a four hour wait due to weather. If the weather is ok, still plan at least two and a half hours for domestic flights.
The security line combined with trying to figure out what terminal hosts your gate takes longer than it should. Find the security line closest to your terminal. Then, be sure to inquire where you gate is located. I lost over a half hour trying to get a handle on where I was supposed to go.
If you are flying American, they close the door to the jet bridge a minimum of 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure times. I suggest looking at the departure screens as your gate may have changed. Another tip is to arrive at the gate at least 45 minutes ahead of schedule. This should give you enough time to find a seat and relax.