JetBlue Airways and ViaSat signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last week to create "the industry’s best in-flight broadband for commercial aviation," the companies said.
The MOU includes in-flight broadband access and other services for customers on JetBlue’s fleet of more than 160 aircraft using ViaSat Ka-band satellites. Under the arrangement, ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam2 modems for installation on the airline’s Embraer E190s 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 onboard the aircraft as well as providing the Wi-Fi enabled services. JetBlue and ViaSat expect the first installations to occur by mid-2012.
"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," said Dave Barger, JetBlue’s CEO.
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.