JetBlue is doubling its contract commitment for in-flight connectivity with ViaSat to $20 million, upgrading its 2011 agreement to deploy the first Ka-band commercial aviation broadband network on its commercial aircraft fleet.
ViaSat's in-flight Wi-Fi service, Fly-Fi, is powered by Exede Internet. In addition to the new contract upgrade, JetBlue will be billed for bandwidth charges based on the service take rate for each flight. ViaSat differentiates its in-flight connectivity service, saying it gives airlines the ability to specify the connectivity speed or service level to each passenger vs. the traditional model of aggregating a certain amount of bandwidth per aircraft.
According to ViaSat, Fly-Fi will be capable of delivering 12 Mbps or more to each connected passenger, which is closer to the Internet connection speeds that users encounter in their homes and offices than most current in-flight connection speeds.
"A good way to characterize this amendment is that we’re both putting a little more skin in the game because of our confidence that providing a really good service is going to increase the number of passengers who use it," said Mark Dankberg, CEO and chairman of ViaSat.
During a panel discussion on in-flight connectivity at the SATELLITE 2013 conference in March, Bill Sullivan, director of business development at ViaSat, said JetBlue passengers should expect high speed connections for basic Internet activity such as web browsing and social media, but that they would have to pay a fee for more complex operations such as file sharing and streaming video.
Currently, ViaSat is ground testing its system on JetBlue aircraft with LiveTV, and expects to begin installations on in-service aircraft later this year. JetBlue's fleet of more than 370 aircraft are expected to be equipped with the in-flight Wi-Fi systems by the end of 2015.