Southwest Airlines is installing WiFi on at least four of its planes by this summer using Row 44, a satellite-based service, which is also being tested by Alaska Air. If Alaska’s test is successfull, it intends to equip its 114-aircraft fleet by the end of 2009.
American has finished installing the Aircell technology on the first of 15 Boeing 767-200s that are used mainly for transcontinental service.
“Pending successful connectivity trials on B767 aircraft, American could extend Aircell’s in-flight broadband service to the remainder of its domestic fleet,” American said in a press release Tuesday.
Satellite-based services are required for transoceanic flights. Air France is trialing OnAir while Qantas is testing AeroMobile which feature onboard GSM services. Ryanair and Emirates are also poised to introduce cellphone service commercially. But the Washington DC-based consultancy Freesky Research says US regulatory foot-dragging on lifting the ban on airborne cellphone services could harm the competitiveness of American carriers.
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