JetBlue plans inflight connectivity system with ViaSat

JetBlue Airways and ViaSat have announced their intention to create what they believe will be the best inflight broadband for commercial aviation, using ViaSat’s high-capacity satellite technology.

“This system will be designed for the 21st century, not just for today’s personal connectivity needs, but with the bandwidth to expand to meet tomorrow’s needs as well,” declared Dave Barger, JetBlue’s chief executive officer. “In just the three years since we launched BetaBlue, the first commercial aircraft with simple messaging capability, technology has advanced by generations. Rather than invest in current technology, designed to transmit broadcast video and audio, we elected to partner with ViaSat to create broadband functionality worthy of today’s interactive personal technology needs.”

ViaSat and JetBlue have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the provision of inflight broadband access and other services for customers on JetBlue’s fleet of more than 160 aircraft using ViaSat advanced Ka-band satellites. ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam2 modems for installation on the airline’s Embraer 190s and Airbus A320s along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellites.

JetBlue subsidiary, LiveTV, will manage the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components on board the aircraft as well as providing the wi-fi enabled services into the overall cabin experience.

LiveTV will install and lead the certification process of the new system with the US FAA. JetBlue and ViaSat expect the first installations to occur by mid-2012.

Further, ViaSat and LiveTV intend to partner to bring the same advance Ka-band satellite broadband services to the airline industry, including to LiveTV’s existing customer base of airlines.

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