In-Flight Ka-band

Using the Ka-band for data is a good idea, even with rain attenuation risks. Say, for example, you were to remove that risk by eliminating pesky clouds and precipation? No problem: fly over them.

Enter JetBlue’s LiveTV LLC and a deal with ViaSat and Continental to use the all-Ka-band ViaSat-1 spacecraft for connecting hundreds of aircraft to the Internet…

Continental Airlines has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV to bring in-flight Wi-Fi – via Ka-band satellite – to more than 200 domestic aircraft equipped with LiveTV’s 95-channel in-seat live television systems.

The deal with Continental represents what could be considered a watershed moment for LiveTV, which, while having successfully deployed Ku-band satellite-based DirecTV in-flight entertainment with several airlines, has struggled for years to gain traction in the Wi-Fi market with its lower-bandwidth air-to-ground (ATG)-based Kiteline in-flight email/messaging service.

LiveTV has since refocused its efforts on offering an ultra-high-speed Ka-band offering, in partnership with satellite communications specialist ViaSat, and succeeded in securing both United-Continental Holdings subsidiary Continental, as evidenced by today’s LOI announcement, in addition to reaching a fleet-wide equipage deal last year with parent JetBlue.

The Ka-band service being brought to Continental’s fleet will utilize the same ViaSat-1 satellite – set for launch later this year – that will help support JetBlue’s in-flight connectivity plans.

ViaSat is doing well, having just leased the Canadian spot beams on ViaSat-1 to Telesat (shh: they may do an IPO). The platform uses proven technology and some airline passengers consider in-flight WiFi a real advantage. Just don’t charge them extra. Remember Connexion by Boeing?

 

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