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Southwest Airlines Offer In-Flight WiFi

Southwest Airlines Offer In-Flight WiFi

Southwest Airlines to become the first airline use a satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi service...

The pioneering no-frills airline company, Southwest, announced last week that it’s first in-flight Wi-Fi service will begin tests on Monday.

The Dallas-based airline said a satellite-based system, operated by Westlake Village, Calif.-based technology firm Row 44, has been installed on one aircraft and will be turned on Monday. Whats more, the service will remain free during it’s beta stage.

In-Flight Wi-Fi

In-Flight Wi-Fi

Southwest did not reveal how much the service would cost in the future, but mentioned that they hope to have another three planes equipped with Wi-Fi by early March.

Dave Ridley, senior vice president of marketing for Southwest Airlines, said:

“Internet connectivity has been high on our list of priorities for quite some time,”

It would appear that Southwest are aiming to provide an affordable in-flight service, Row 44’s CEO John Guidon says it will cost around 10 dollars a day:

“Everybody is hoping for a low price. Row 44 agrees and we can provide low price,”

Southwest have also teamed up with Yahoo to provide an up-to-date in-flight homepage containing destination-relevant content, a flight tracker and other local news.

The flight tracker will allow passengers to virtually travel their flight route, viewing points of interest along the way with corresponding images from Flickr.

Southwest is not the first airline to offer an in-flight Internet connection; American Airlines, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines already have several planes that also provide the service; Jet Blue also offers a text/e-mail service on one of it’s aircraft.

But Southwest is the first airline to use satellites to deploy its service. By using satellites, the Internet is able to remain connected when the aircraft is flying over water.

Other carriers, which are working with Chicago-based Aircell, use ground cellular towers to transmit the signal, meaning the connection can only be kept when the plane is over land.

“We believe the aircraft-to-satellite technology is the most robust solution in the industry,” Ridley says.

A previous generation of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi, operated by Connexion by Boeing, was shut down in 2006 due to high installation costs and low demand for the $30-a-flight service.

Guidon said in December that Row 44’s equipment is cheaper and easier to install than Connexion’s system.

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