Virgin America finishes installing faster internet on its aircraft

Virgin America has finished installing a new internet system on board its aircraft. Photo: Virgin America. 

Virgin America has finished installing a new internet system on board its aircraft. Photo: Virgin America. 

Want to ensure you have reasonably fast internet on an airplane? You may want to fly Virgin America. 

The airline this week said it had finished a project to retrofit the internet offered on all of its aircraft. It's now using a second-generation system sold by Gogo called ATG4, an upgrade over the original ATG system, which it finished installing in 2009. The last aircraft to receive the new technology was an Airbus A319 called 'Jane.'

Now, don't get too excited. The new internet is still not all that fast. Gogo says it delivers peak speeds of up to 9.8 Mbps to each aircraft – more than triple the earlier peak speed of 3.1 Mbps. The system still relies on ground-based cell phone towers. 

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also busy installing the new ATG4 system on their aircraft operating domestically. United uses different systems for its onboard internet. 

Virgin America had said it would be installing an even faster internet system called GTO, or ground-to-orbit, but the airline told me in June that it had postponed that upgrade. (If you want to read my story on the postponement that I wrote for Aviation Week, scroll down to page three of the linked PDF.) 

Here's a time lapse video of Virgin America installing the new system on one aircraft.