JetBlue is the latest airline to announce it will provide Internet access to its passengers. The carrier said it plans to partner with ViaSat to bring the Web to its fleet beginning in the first quarter of 2013.
The news got out before the company planned. The Verge reported it obtained a company email detailing the plans. JetBlue confirmed the report on its Website.
That prompted ViaSat to go public with a press release of its own, saying its system enables airlines to specify a high-speed service level to each passenger, rather than simply an aggregate amount of bandwidth to the plane that leaves passengers competing for service.
The system is capable of delivering 12 Mbps or more to each connected passenger. However, neither party has yet specified exact speeds to be offered aboard JetBlue.
ViaSat says its high-capacity can offer significantly higher transmission speeds, more bandwidth for each passenger, less network congestion, and more attractive airtime pricing than other in-flight Internet access alternatives.
The full aircraft system, which ViaSat says is the first of its kind for commercial aviation, is undergoing certification by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Company says Ka-band satellite a plus
“Compared to air-to-ground and traditional satellite in-flight networks, the improved capacity and economics of our Ka-band system enable airlines to finally bring a high-speed home or office Internet experience to passengers,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat CEO and chairman. “Customer feedback on our Exede home Internet service has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re eager to prove that the in-flight experience can be just as good.”
ViaSat is already under contract to install its in-flight system, working together with partner LiveTV, onto 370 aircraft operated by JetBlue and one other U.S. carrier, which it did not name. LiveTV currently provides DIRECTV service to all passengers on JetBlue.
Internet installations are expected to begin later this year with all 370 aircraft scheduled to be online by the end of calendar 2015.