Deals

Aircell raises $35M to fuel its in-flight Internet

Aircell the company that provides the Gogo in-flight Internet service, has raised $35 million in new funding.

In-flight Internet seems to be more and more common (or at least it’s becoming more and more central to my work life), with Aircell leading the charge. The Itasca, Ill.-headquarted company said Gogo is now available on nine of the top 11 airlines. That includes all flights by AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin America, as well as some flights from Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways. And it has plans to go live on Frontier Airlines soon.

The company has also teamed up with tech companies to offer high-profile promotions, most notably deals with Google that led to free WiFi over the last two holiday seasons. Aircell said Gogo made more than 2 million WiFi connections during the 2010 promotion. (I thought Gogo service seemed to slow dramatically during the promotion, and I’ve heard similar complaints from friends, but an Aircell spokesperson denied that performance suffered.) This month Aircell is partnering with Ford to provide free in-flight access to Facebook.

Beyond commercial airlines, the company said it offers in-flight Internet on nearly 6,000 business aircraft.

Aircell said it has raised more than $500 million in funding since it was awarded an exclusive spectrum license by the Federal Communications Commission in 2006, including $176 million raised last year. The new round came from existing investors including Ripplewood Holdings, Blumenstein/Thorne Information Partners, “other investment entities associated with investor/entrepreneur Oakleigh Thorne,” and Aircell management.

Competitors include OnAir and Row 44.

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