JetBlue to Add Satellite Based Wi-Fi Fleet Wide

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JetBlue confirmed it will install satellite based Wi-Fi on its entire fleet of 170 aircraft starting in mid-2012, at a cost of about $30 million.

LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue, and ViaSat are partnering to bring Ka-band satellite broadband services to the carrier's Airbus A320 and Embraer E190 aircraft.

"ViaSat is able to provide true broadband bandwidth with speeds and capacity not seen before in the commercial aviation marketplace," JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras told AOL Travel News.

"Ground-based systems can't scale to meet the bandwidth needs of advancements in personal technology, especially the bandwidth volume needed (as opposed to just speed) as more and more passengers begin to share the connection," Lleras added.

JetBlue has not quite worked out what pricing might be for the satellite Wi-Fi service, but is looking into offering different pricing levels depending on how much bandwidth a customer might use, Lleras said. A passenger who wants to send a few emails could pay less than someone, say, wanting to watch a movie online. Some hotels have adopted a similar pricing model.

The companies involved hope to offer additional onboard entertainment options for passengers during their flight too, though have not spelled out specifics.

"We believe the economics of Ka-band will create an environment that will engage more passengers and offer a broader range of online experiences in the air," said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat CEO and chairman, in a press statement.

Continental Airlines recently announced they will be installing ViaSat service on 200 of their Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft.

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