Technology

Why Gogo’s Infuriatingly Expensive, Slow Internet Still Owns the Skies

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(Bloomberg) – In the fall of 2008, Louis C.K. was a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and delivered a soon-to-be-viral rant called “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” It was about how we live in a time of mind-blowing technological achievement, and all we do is complain about it. His main source of amazement was—again, this was seven years ago—airplane Wi-Fi. He recounted his experience with it, how incredible it was to watch YouTube while soaring above the clouds, and how the network broke down minutes after passengers started using it. “The guy next to me says, ‘This is bulls—,” Louis tells O’Brien. “Like, how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago!”

It’s a clip Michael Small knows well. “Oh sure,” he says. “That’s huge around here.” Small is the chief executive officer of Gogo, the largest in-flight Internet provider in the U.S. You might think an old comedy bit about in-flight Wi-Fi would be charmingly quaint; that most of the kinks would have been worked out by now and service would be fast and reliable. But you don’t think that. If you’ve flown for work on a major U.S. airline over the past five years, you’ve probably used Gogo, and “fast and reliable” are probably not how you’d describe it. More like “hell-sent and extortionate.”

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