Airspan, Gogo Complete 5G Air-to-Ground Network Testbed

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Airspan Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Airspan Network Holdings Inc., which provides software and hardware for 5G network solutions, and Gogo Business Aviation have completed another key network milestone, announcing the completion of Gogo’s seven-tower 5G testbed as part of the deployment of its nationwide 5G Air-to-Ground (ATG) network.

Gogo’s 5G ATG network is powered by Airspan’s OpenRANGE Air5G Sub-6 GHZ Radio Unit (RU) macros, fully virtualized OpenRANGE vCU (Centralized Unit) and vDU (Distributed Unit) software, and massive MIMO antennas. The unique antenna solutions are ruggedized and proven for harsh environments, and provide a series of critical features including advanced beam shaping, high-precision beam pointing, specifically designed beam profiles for long range air-to-ground applications, critical interference suppression, and support of Doppler Effect exceeding 3GPP (industry standard) speeds by four times — in excess of 1200 km/hour/750 MPH.

“These seven sites will serve as a testbed for our 150-tower nationwide network,” said Mike Rupert, vice president of network operations for Gogo Business Aviation. “The testbed includes sites in both remote and populated locations to validate the network is operating as designed in all – and many – challenging environments.”

Plans call for rapid deployment of additional sites throughout the first half of 2022, and Rupert said Gogo remains on track to launch its 5G ATG network in the second half of the year, leveraging Airspan’s portfolio of 5G advanced 5G infrastructure, innovative Open RAN virtualized software and hardware, and 5G antennas.

5G Innovation for Aviation

“These milestones and the innovation behind them are great examples of Airspan’s ability to provide unique solutions and continued leadership in 5G and Open RAN software, hardware and air interfaces in challenging deployments,” said Airspan President and CEO Eric Stonestrom. “We are working closely with Gogo to bring 5G innovation and technology to aviation. This network deployment is a model for future 5G Air-to-Ground networks, and is applicable to multiple markets on a global scale.”

Airspan uses patented technology from a world-class R&D and engineering team to overcome the challenges inherently involved in aircraft traveling at super-fast speeds at very high altitudes, providing:

An innovative, ATG system design with long range cell technology

Innovative and extensive air interface specifications

A shrink-wrapped solution for the ground network and aircraft modem, aircraft router and unique antenna design using massive MIMO technology

Customize to suit local requirements

Recently, discussions between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have centered on potential interference with aircraft radio altimeters that operate in the 4.0 GHz – 4.2 GHz range caused by the terrestrial carriers’ 5G use of C-Band spectrum in the 3.7 – 3.98 GHz range.

Gogo has never used the frequencies under discussion and there are no plans to use those frequencies for the Gogo 5G network. For its 5G network, Gogo plans to use 4 MHz of spectrum it owns in the 800 MHz band and additional unlicensed spectrum in the 2.423 GHz – 2.475 GHz range, which has sufficient spacing from the radio altimeter operating range to preclude any interference by the Gogo 5G system.