In-flight Internet takes to US skies

High speed Wi-Fi on an aircraft? Yes!

Alaska Airlines has announced that it will test a high-speed satellite wireless Internet service on its aircraft next year. The airline will be the first carrier in the US to offer such a service, and if the test is successful, will implement it onto the entire 114-aircraft strong fleet.

The broadband service will be provided by Californian company Row 44, and is designed to work over water and internationally. Customers will be able to access the service from Wi-Fi hotspots within the aircraft cabin.

Pricing options are still being researched at present.

Aircraft broadband services have had difficulty taking off in the past. Boeing's Connexion option was pulled last year after difficulty in signing airlines onto the service. While support from international airlines was good, US airlines were reluctant to adopt the service following the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the subsequent industry downturn.

Alaska Airlines is not the only US carrier to be testing the waters with airline broadband services. American Airlines have also announced plans to test a broadband service, though it will use air-to-ground technology, rather than satellites.

Provider AirCell said it will build cellular towers throughout the United States to beam the signal to aircrafts. American Airlines' broadband will also have a fee attached, but the exact cost will only be announced when the service rolls out.

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Matthew Sainsbury
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