Southwest: Inflight WiFi will come to entire fleet by 2012

Southwest Airlines announced late last week that it signed an equipment purchase contract with inflight WiFi provider Row 44, which provides high-speed Internet access via the Ku band satellites. The airlines said it has now begun the process of ordering equipment and scheduling for a full-fleet installation after ending the equipment testing phase.

Southwest chose Row 44 back in August but has since remained quiet about its specific plans, only saying inflight WiFi rollouts would begin in 2010.

Southwest plans to begin installing equipment during the second quarter with a goal of equipping 15 aircraft per month initially and increasing that number to 25 per month. "With this schedule, we estimate that our full fleet of more than 540 planes will be outfitted with WiFi service by early 2012," said Southwest's Dave Ridley in a blog post.

Still unanswered is the cost of the service. The airlines isn't announcing that yet, saying it's still testing a myriad of price point on the four aircraft that are currently equipped with WiFi. Currently, passengers on certain WiFi-available flights pay between $2 and $12 per flight depending on travel distance and the type of device passengers are connecting. As such, an iPod Touch user may pay a different price than a laptop user.

For more:
- check out the blog post

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