Fixing Gogo’s In-Flight WiFi – and PR – Problem

We’ve all been there.

Back in your college days there was probably a dorm room down the hall that was filled with a pod of over-clocked peers sucking all of the free university-supplied WiFi oxygen out of the air to support their addiction. As a result, you might have been lucky just to connect to your local WiFi access point at all. Even shared wired-network bandwidth was routinely confiscated by their aggressive applications. Personal entreaties to them to let others have their fair share of the bandwidth probably fell on deaf ears. Perhaps, out of frustration, you might have set off a smoke bomb outside their room to up the ante, only to have the one called “Hud” emerge and stamp it out with his bare feet. (Not that I would have any personal knowledge of that sort of behavior.)
Fast forward to today. Whether you’re checking in to a decent hotel on a business trip or into Seat 22A for a 5-hour flight on a WiFi “equipped” Virgin America A320, the chances are good that your network connectivity “experience” will be compromised by some combination of too many users and/or rogue applications capable of grabbing over half of the total available bandwidth.

Now onto the specific plight of Gogo Inflight.

Concerned, rightfully, about finding a way to limit video streaming on board Gogo WiFi-enabled planes — so that all paying users could make use of their Internet service — Gogo recently went to the extraordinary measure of actually issuing fake SSL certificates to passengers in an effort to limit streaming to secure video streaming sites. This, not surprisingly, ignited a firestorm of negative PR for them about the security and privacy holes they were opening up as a result of them initiating a “man-in-the-middle” attack on their own customers. And this firestorm continues today.

The truth is that had GoGo been aware of the capabilities of Saisei’s new Network Performance Enforcement solution when they implemented their “fake SSL certificate” gambit, they could have completely avoided their very public PR fiasco as well as “fixed” the problem of bandwidth contention on board their flights in classic “win-win” fashion. Not only would NPE have guaranteed that all the user sessions on board would have gotten through without buffering and timing out, it could even have allowed the targeted video streaming sessions to continue to operate as well. That’s what NPE does at the end of the day. It makes sure that all data flows successfully transit links under congestion.

As Gogo said about the furor, “Whatever technique we use to shape bandwidth, it impacts only some secure video streaming sites.” What Gogo should have said is that whatever “traditional” bandwidth shaping technique they used was going to have a negative impact. They were right in that traditional QoS approaches and bandwidth caps would have done nothing to save their subscribers from dying sessions and a wholly frustrating experience. Hence the “Hail Mary” epiphany to try the fake SSL certificates. But with NPE, nothing would have been impacted and all signs of link congestion would have been completely hidden from their customers.

NPE’s patented host-equalization capability, which gives all network users exactly the same amount of bandwidth, combined with its ability to both double access link utilization and guarantee that all flows will get through without ever timing out, makes Saisei’s technology an instant fix for any fair-use service, whether it’s for on-board Internet access, hotel WiFi, or making sure that the pack of gamers down the university dorm hall get no more of the network than the study group working on their project over Skype.

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What people are saying

First Cagayan Converge Data Center “Fair usage was the biggest requirement for us, but FlowCommand has provided a number of other great benefits in terms of much more advanced and instantaneous visibility, analytics and control. The control of our bandwidth is markedly better across the board. We’ve improved bandwidth utilization by more than 30%, which has translated into a more than $80,000 bandwidth cost savings and delayed capex on upgrades for more than 6 months”

Edgardo Lopez, First Cagayan Converge Data Center, Inc. Chief Technology Officer

Sunway Information Technology “Saisei’s software has paid off in a number of ways. The two gaming operators who threatened to take their business elsewhere have decided to remain our customers. And we’ve been able to eliminate the 5-millisecond latency that can terminate a gaming session and its associated revenue.”

Daniel Soh, Assistant General Manager, Sunway Digital Wave

NHN Entertainment “Saisei’s software is critical for us. It’s helping us provide a high-quality gaming experience to our end users around the globe which is important to increasing customer loyalty and expanding our business. Saisei’s software is unique in its ability to do micro-flow level monitoring without packet capturing. It’s extremely easy to use. We looked at many of the top networking products but they were very costly and complex, and most were hardware based so we couldn’t utilize our unused servers in our data centers.”

Joohwan Kim, NHN Entertainment Infra Operation Team Leader

Fort Bend County Libraries “FlowCommand gives us great visibility and control, and also does an excellent job of augmenting the security on our network because we can see so much more. From the dashboard, we can now immediately see where traffic is coming from – and can really hone in on, for example, the top 25 applications being used and by which users, devices and locations – on a second-by-second basis. We’ve also gained a lot more control by using the software’s host equalization capability, which ensures every user has equal access to our local Wi-Fi networks and gets great applications performance, regardless of how many users are on the network or what applications they are running.”

Raymond Miranda, Network Specialist at Fort Bend County Libraries

network world testimonial “Saisei’s software suite brings order to chaos and makes the network a highly predictable system that can achieve utilisation rates over 95%.”

Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst, ZK Research

light reading testimonial “Using Saisei’s patented flow control technology, FlowCommand manages traffic without queueing, buffering, scheduling, or random packets drops.”

MITCH WAGNER, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading

it world canada testimonial“Vendors that make competing network optimisation solutions like Cisco Systems, Riverbed and Silver Peak have been trying to do something similar but haven’t put the pieces together yet the way Saisei has.”

Howard Solomon, former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada

ema testimonial“The combination of deep visibility plus granular, automated, policy-based control has long been sought as the holy grail of network capacity and performance optimisation.”

Jim Frey, vice president of research, Enterprise Management Associates