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ViaSat/Boeing Partner to Provide In-Flight Ka-band Internet Service

ViaSat picked a Boeing 702HP satellite platform for its new ViaSat 2 satellite and Boeing has now agreed to work with ViaSat towards offering Ka-band airborne satellite terminals as a factory line-fit option on Boeing commercial aircraft. Airline companies will be able to specify ViaSat in-flight connectivity on new Boeing aircraft and take delivery of the planes with the equipment already installed.

“Within the past few weeks we’ve taken steps toward making our Ka-band in-flight service more attractive to new airline customers in two ways: continuing our plan to expand high-capacity Ka-band coverage and making it easier to add our system to their fleets,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO. “First we announced the new coverage areas that we expect to gain with ViaSat-2. And now factory installation on Boeing planes will simplify the process of getting our equipment on board.”

ViaSat-2 will provide new capacity over land and sea from North America south to Central America and across the northern edge of South America, as well as over the primary aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.

ViaSat will face competition from Qualcomm's proposed 14 GHz air-to-ground broadband service but that isn't an option for aircraft flying over the Atlantic.

My experience has been that Southwest's satellite-based in-flight Internet service is so slow and has so much latency that it is practically unusable. Gogo ground station-based Internet on Delta flights is usable, but is hampered by the limited bandwidth available on its 4 MHz slice of 800 MHz spectrum. ViaSat will have to deal with the satellite latency, but I hope the extra bandwidth and ViaSat's experience in compensating for latency in its Exede Internet service will result in a better in-flight Internet experience.