GoGo Takes Texting Into the Skies Over SXSW

New messaging app for fliers

“Hi Mom, I’m calling from 10,000 feet!”

GoGo took its SXSW marketing to new heights, shall we say, showing off technology that will bring texting to commercial air travel.

The airplane Internet service provider demonstrated its new inflight text messaging app by bringing reporters on a private jet to check it out in Austin. GoGo also teamed up with Keith’s BBQ for its unique take on food trucks, flying food trucks.

GoGo is the company behind most commercial airplanes’ Internet services in the U.S., and it announced last year a service allowing travelers to text while flying. The company today also let passengers make calls from the private plane. A couple of reporters (this one included) took that opportunity to call their moms.

Now, this doesn’t mean phone calls will be coming to commercial air travel, said GoGo’s vp of products Brad Jaehn. “There’s very little desire from a passenger base or an airline base,” Jaehn said in an inflight interview. “You don’t want to sit next to someone talking on a phone.”

That’s why GoGo has stuck to messaging, at least in North America. GoGo sees demand outside the U.S. for inflight calling, where the cultural norms are more accepting, Jaehn said.

Also, GoGo outfits private aircraft with Internet and for personal planes phone service is in high demand.

As for messaging, GoGo is partnering with airlines for its GoGo Text app and working on ways to incorporate messaging right into the airlines’ apps, Jaehn said. Delta is among the interested airlines, he said.

GoGo also is working on upgrading its Internet speeds, which some travelers know could be slow when dozens of people access a pipeline that only allows 10 mbps speeds, not enough to allow streaming video from sites like Netflix.

GoGo’s head of communications Steve Nolan said that the company will be ready to deliver 70 mbps in the second half of the year.