JetBlue and ViaSat in agreement for Ka-band in-flight connectivity

ViaSat Inc. and JetBlue Airways have reached a definitive agreement to deploy the first Ka-band commercial aviation broadband network using ViaSat-1, claimed to be the world’s highest capacity Ka-band satellite.The agreement formalises the Memorandum of Understanding, entered into last September, in which the companies set out to create the “industry’s best in-flight broadband for commercial aviation”, using ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite technology.Ka-band provides higher transmission speeds, more bandwidth for each customer and, claimed by ViaSat, more attractive airtime pricing compared with other high-speed in-flight internet services. The agreement includes an order valued at over $30 million for Ka-band airborne terminals and services to outfit the JetBlue fleet of more than 170 aircraft.“Over the past few months we have worked closely with JetBlue and LiveTV to finalise a user-friendly and scalable satellite network for in-flight broadband,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat CEO and chairman. “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.”Under the agreement, ViaSat will provide satellite broadband terminals for installation on the airline’s Airbus A320 and Embraer E190 aircraft along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue satellite broadband network, including the high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellite. JetBlue will be the first airline to receive the ViaSat Ka-band system, and those initial installations are expected to be quickly followed by deployment onboard the Continental Airlines fleet. Installations are expected to begin in 2012.”We believe JetBlue, LiveTV, and ViaSat make a great team, enabling our customers to stay connected, informed and entertained while in the air. Together, we will introduce a product that will give customers true social networking connectivity at altitude – a 21st Century product that will scale with the ever-increasing reliance we all have on our personal communications devices,” commented Robin Hayes, JetBlue chief commercial officer. “We will also have the flexibility to design content and price-points around customer’s needs, whether that be emailing or streaming movies, at a much more competitive price point than today’s ground-to-air products.”The system must be certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration with LiveTV managing the certification, integrating the ViaSat broadband and related components onboard the aircraft, and providing the Wi-Fi enabled services into the cabin.“We have been waiting for the right technology to deliver the highest speed and lowest cost connectivity to an aircraft,” stated Glenn Latta, president of LiveTV. “Our partnership with ViaSat will deliver a system that puts the airline back in control, allowing airlines the freedom to bundle and price the service in ways consistent with their brand.”

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