September 20, 2012
JetBlue To Offer Free Wi-Fi On Flights Starting In 2013
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
JetBlue will be earning kudos in every businessman's book starting next year, when it begins offering free, in-flight Wi-Fi.According to a report by The Verge, JetBlue has sent a memo to crewmembers, saying it would be offering ViaSat to customers onboard its flights.
As technology makes its way towards the air, airlines have found ways to add even more fees by charging to either watch television shows or get online. However, this report indicates that JetBlue is trying to buck that trend.
In the memo, JetBlue calls other services like Gogo or Row 44 slow and spotty, as well as expensive. It said that a FlightView survey found that only a small percentage of customers are satisfied with the Wi-Fi service models currently offered in-flight and at airports.
"The challenge for us was building a Wi-Fi product that broke this slow, frustrating and ultimately unsatisfactory mold," the memo reported by the Verge read. "We wanted to find a way to deliver faster and less expensive service that would result in greater satisfaction. With LiveTV partnering with ViaSat, I think we found the sweet spot."
Jet Blue says that its Wi-Fi is "lightning fast" and was able to load 10 web pages in an average of 1 minute, 18 seconds. It said the second fastest service took as long as 8 minutes and 42 seconds to load the pages.
The company wrote in the memo that the service will be free at least until the first 30 aircraft are equipped with it.
The satellite being used was launched last October and has the same capacity as 100 last-generation Ku-band satellites.
"It´s smarter, newer, cheaper and better than anything on the market today for commercial aviation," JetBlue wrote in the memo.
Originally the technology had only been available to government and private aviation, according to the company.
"We plan to make JetBlue the very first commercial airline to offer this product on board, at altitude," the memo read.
JetBlue said LiveTV will start to install ViaSat on its aircraft in the first quarter of next year. This airline isn't the only one trying to step up its game in the Wi-Fi offerings.
Virgin America added Gogo's ATG-4 service last year, which increased Wi-Fi capacity by about four times over previous performance. However, this service wasn't initially offered as free.