JetBlue Airways and ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) today announce the intent to create the industry’s best inflight broadband for commercial aviation, using ViaSat’s innovative high-capacity satellite technology.
“This system will be designed for the 21st century, not just for today’s personal connectivity needs, but with the bandwidth to expand to meet tomorrow’s needs as well,” said Dave Barger, JetBlue’s Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
ViaSat and JetBlue have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the provision of in-flight broadband access and other services for customers on JetBlue’s fleet of more than 160 aircraft using ViaSat advanced Ka-band satellites. Under the arrangement, ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam(R)2 modems for installation on the airline’s EMBRAER E190 and Airbus A320 aircraft types along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellites. JetBlue subsidiary, LiveTV LLC, will manage the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components onboard the aircraft as well as providing the Wi-Fi enabled services into the overall cabin experience.
“JetBlue is the perfect partner to introduce our next generation ViaSat-1 broadband network to the commercial aviation market,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat CEO and Chairman. “JetBlue is famous for customer service and in-flight entertainment. The breakthrough bandwidth economics of ViaSat-1 extends the passenger internet experience beyond just e-mail and web pages and creates a world of possibilities for personalized broadband entertainment. This is exactly the type of application and user experience that we believe will help transform the satellite broadband industry. “
LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue, will install and lead the certification process of the new system. Because the product will be the first of its kind for commercial aviation, the system must be tested, and certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration, prior to installation fleet-wide. JetBlue and ViaSat expect the first installations to occur by mid-2012.
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.
“Combining LiveTV’s expertise in entertainment and content management with ViaSat’s satellite technology means we can create products and services for airline customers that are unparalleled in the industry today,” said Glenn Latta, LiveTV’s President.
JetBlue and ViaSat have completed the non-binding MOU with the intent of signing a definitive agreement before the end of this calendar year.