Gogo uses an air-to-ground cellular network, the result being that traffic latency is not a problem but that bandwidth suffers. Very roughly, latency measures how fast data travels and bandwidth measures how much data can get transferred (obviously there are complications, since if you can't get much data all at once it will seem slow to you, but close enough). Gogo is fine on latencythe signal goes from the airplane to the ground and then bounces around before being sent back upbut it's not great on bandwidth. Crowded flights can get particularly annoying.
Some of Gogo's competitors use satellites, but they have the opposite problem. They have a ton of bandwidth to offer, but it takes longer for all the signals involved to get back and forth from space.
The obvious solution is to marry ground and satellite. Earlier this week Gogo put out a press release announcing that it's doing just that. The company unveiled a hybrid service mixing ground-based cellular towers with satellites. Tech blog Engadget did the math on how much faster the new combination Ground to Orbit (GTO) technology will make Gogo connections, coming up with a number roughly 20 times faster than current speeds.
Virgin America is slated to be the first to get the upgraded service, with the launch date some time around the second half of 2014.
[Photo: Matthew Hurst / Flickr]