American Airlines today said it intends to test inflight high-speed broadband on transcontinental flights next year through an agreement with AirCell.
The carrier said it has signed a memorandum of intent with the inflight Wi-Fi technology developer and plans to deploy the system in all classes of service on its Boeing 767-200 aircraft, which primarily serves transcontinental routes. American said it intends to make the service compatible with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and handheld devices, and plans to charge a fee to passengers using the technology. "If the connectivity solution is successful, it could be extended to the rest of American's domestic fleet," American said in a statement.
Other U.S.-based carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest are flirting with inflight connectivity offerings, as a slew of technology providers are working toward making such service available (BTN, May 7)
AirCell president and CEO Jack Blumenstein in May told BTN that the company was less than a year away from coming to market with an offering. The company last year gained an air-to-ground broadband license, purchasing 3 mhz of spectrum in the same Federal Communications Commission auction at which JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV purchased 1 mhz.
"We understand that broadband connectivity is important to our business customers and others who want to use their PDAs and laptops for real-time, inflight broadband communications," American Airlines executive vice president of marketing Dan Garton said today in a statement.