The in-flight Wi-Fi business is picking up with JetBlue and ViaSat working to launch satellite-based broadband service next year and air-to-ground service provider Gogo expanding its partnership with Delta Airlines.
"We're on track to deliver the airline industry's first in-flight broadband service in early 2013 through a partnership with ViaSat," according to an announcement on JetBlue's website.
The airline will offer free baseline service for at least the first 30 planes in its fleet, according to PCWorld.
ViaSat last week announced that it would install its Exede in-flight Internet service in collaboration with partner LiveTV onto 370 aircraft operated by JetBlue and one other unnamed U.S. carrier. "Installations are expected to begin later this year with all 370 aircraft scheduled to be online by the end of calendar 2015," ViaSat said.
JetBlue and ViaSat aim to launch in-flight broadband next year.
The service will provide high-capacity broadband functionality using the ViaSat-1 satellite, which operates in the Ka-band (26.5–40 GHz) and was launched in fall 2011.
JetBlue said it is working to secure Federal Aviation Administration certification for the service on its aircraft. The airline did not say what data speeds the service will be capable of but promises its passengers will have access to "exponentially more bandwidth than any other product in commercial aviation today." ViaSat has said its Exede service can deliver 12 Mbps or more to each connected passenger.
Meanwhile, Gogo said it will expand Gogo Vision, its wireless in-flight entertainment product, across the entire two-class and Delta Connection fleet of Gogo-equipped aircraft.
Gogo, which provides in-flight services via air-to-ground technology using terrestrial towers, said installations are expected to begin this year on Delta's domestic fleet and be completed by 2013. New international Wi-Fi service including Gogo Vision should be finished by the end of 2015. When complete, Delta will have more than 950 aircraft equipped with Gogo connectivity and Gogo Vision.
Delta has committed to upgrading its fleet to Gogo's ATG-4 technology, which is expected to enhance its existing air-to-ground network and improve capacity to the aircraft."As we begin updating their fleet with our next generation ATG-4 connectivity service, we will also add the Gogo Vision product to those aircraft," said Michael Small, Gogo's president and CEO.
Videos for Gogo Vision are stored on an internal server on the plane and streamed to passengers' own Wi-Fi enabled devices. Introductory prices will range from $1 for television episodes to $4 for full-length movies from major Hollywood studios.
Gogo currently provides Gogo Vision to more than 200 aircraft operated by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. More than 1,400 aircraft are expected to receive Gogo Vision on Delta, American and US Airways by the end of 2013, Gogo said. The vendor recently upped prices for its Internet service on several flights throughout the United States, including the popular San Francisco to New York flight on Virgin America, as it is "experimenting" with pricing, according to VentureBeat.
Earlier this month, Intelsat announced it will provide broadband satellite capacity to Gogo for in-flight Internet access on transoceanic air routes and other areas around the globe starting in early 2013. Gogo signed a multi-year, multi-transponder contract to use Ku-band satellite capacity on Intelsat 19, Intelsat 21, Intelsat 22 and Intelsat 27.
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