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American Airlines seeks to break contract with Wi-Fi provider Gogo

American Airlines seeks to break contract with Wi-Fi provider Gogo
An American Airlines plane wait to takeoff from Los Angeles International Airport. The Fort Worth-based carrier wants to break its contract with Gogo, its onboard Wi-Fi provider. (Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times)

Anybody who has tried to use wireless Internet on a commercial airplane knows that the speeds can be frustratingly slow.

American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, said it has had enough of slow onboard Wi-Fi. For that reason, the Fort Worth-based carrier has filed a legal petition to break its contract with its onboard Wi-Fi provider Gogo.

In the petition filed this month, American said its contract requires Gogo to match or exceed the connectivity services of its competitors. If Gogo chooses not to upgrade its services after American makes the request, American says it has the right to break its agreement with Gogo.

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For most of American's planes, Gogo provides a service that uses Wi-Fi signals from ground-based cell towers, while other companies offer onboard Wi-Fi speeds up to four times faster through satellite-based systems.

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The petition asks the court to declare that American has the right to break its contract.

But Gogo officials are shrugging off the petition, saying it is in the process of switching to a faster satellite-based system. The Chicago company has already installed the faster onboard system on Aeromexico planes, with plans to roll it out on Delta Air Lines and other carriers later this year.

"We would like to note that American is a valued customer of ours and that we look forward to resolving the disagreement regarding contract interpretation that led to this declaratory judgment action," Gogo said in a statement.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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