JetBlue, an American low-cost airline which is the third-busiest carrier at Orlando International Airport, officially starts offering 12Mbps WiFi to each connected passenger using the company’s new satellite system.
The onboard innovative service called Fly-Fi is designed to deliver high-quality Internet that meets high passenger demand for connectivity, eclipsing the service quality and speeds of other in-cabin airline services that can serve only a small number of passengers at low speeds.
Fly-Fi represents a jump in technical performance for in-flight connectivity. The system offers up to eight times the bandwidth of other systems flying today, with more than 20 megabits per aircraft. That means streaming audio and video is possible without knocking other users offline or otherwise hurting their browsing experience.
With “Ka-band” satellite technology, JetBlue promises “real broadband Internet in the sky” and “at-home Internet speeds”. ViaSat said that its system now has over 1000 flight hours on JetBlue’s system and. The satellite-based system, branded Exede In The Air, can also operate on the ground, enabling airlines to take advantage of the recent FAA ruling allowing passengers to use their personal electronic devices at all stages of flight, with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi. The system has been FAA certified so far for operation on the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737.
The service has a split pricing model. A basic version of the WiFi called Simply Surf will be free until June 2014. There is also a premium service available called Fly-Fi Plus that gives flyers the ability to stream videos or download large files for $9 per hour. A pricing scheme past the first six months has not yet been decided, but JetBlue senior vice president of marketing Marty St. George says his goal is to keep it free.
However, the service is currently available on a very limited number of JetBlue aircraft. JetBlue said it expects to have five planes with the WiFi service by the end of the year, and more than 140 aircraft by the end of 2014.
Photo Credit: Jeff Cutler