JetBlue Airways, in conjunction with its LiveTV
subsidiary and satellite technology provider ViaSat Inc., on Wednesday said it
would develop and roll out fleet-wide its own inflight broadband Internet
solution, which should see its first installations by mid-2012.
JetBlue said it signed a non-binding memorandum of
understanding with ViaSat, which provides satellite and other digital
communication technology, with a full agreement expected to be signed by
year-end. According to the memorandum, ViaSat would offer satellite technology,
antenna components and modems, while LiveTV would manage the integration of
ViaSat technology, install the systems and lead the Federal Communications
Commission certification process.
The resulting onboard wireless Internet and broadband
solution would be pioneered by JetBlue, but also would be made available for
sale to other commercial airlines.
Many of JetBlue's domestic competitors have opted to
use technology by inflight connectivity provider Aircell, which uses an
air-to-ground broadband frequency, and to a lesser extent, Row 44, which uses a
satellite-based system. JetBlue, along with its LiveTV subsidiary, had
developed its own narrowband inflight connectivity offering, available on its
BetaBlue aircraft, which provided users limited connectivity like texting and
"In just the three years since we launched BetaBlue,
the first commercial aircraft with simple messaging capability, technology has
advanced by generations," said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger. "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."