Aircell Gets $176 Million for In-flight Broadband

Aircell, the Itasca, Ill. company behind the wildly hyped GoGo in-flight broadband, has raised $176 million in funds from an undisclosed group of investors. (Don’t worry — we asked, but they wouldn’t tell us who invested in the company.) The funds will be used for network expansion, among other things.

GoGo, which is currently available on more than 700 commercial aircraft, and has commitments from a total of nine airlines, needs to build out its network aggressively if it wants hype to meet match reality. As it has grown, GoGo’s connection quality has declined as the strain on its network has gone up because of increased usage.

In many ways, the hype around GoGo has met reality. The uptake of the service is pretty low at present. Some say it might be as low as six users per flight. I think the pricing has something to do with the reason why many travelers are not so keen on paying for in-flight broadband just yet. The low uptake might be the reason why Aircell is figuring out a way to sell the service to the carriers itself for more backend functions. The good news — if you can call it that — is that the competing Row44 service (on Southwest) is actually worse off.