Friday, January 07, 2011

Row 44 WiFi in Another Advance for Service on International Flights

The aggressively expanding inflight WiFi provider Row 44 said today that it received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to offer its satellite-based broadband service in flights over the Atlantic.

The FCC issued Row 44 a license for the T11N North Atlantic Oceanic Coverage satellite. This makes Row 44 the only provider allowed to operate and charge for inflight broadband connectivity on transatlantic flights.

In the U.S., Aircell's Gogo system -- which is based on land antennas and can't operate over oceans -- is the leading inflight Internet provider, with service operating on more than 1,044 mainline domestic planes of seven U.S. various airlines, Delta being the leading one, and on Air Canada.

Row 44 is now installing its system on Southwest's entire fleet of 737s, and has been in trials with other airlines.

The next expansion is international, obviously, though there is already robust competition from foreign companies on airplanes operating in Europe and elsewhere.

"This license creates complete seamlessness for Row 44’s broadband across the Atlantic," said Howard Lefkowitz, Row 44’s chief commercial officer. "Row 44 is now the only company in the world whose airline customers can charge for in-flight broadband on, say, a transatlantic flight from Paris to New York."

On Wednesday, Row 44, had said it received a so-called Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the European Aviation Safety Agency to install its system on commercial aircraft in Europe. The certificate cleared a big hurdle for the company in its plans to sell its service to European airlines.

Row 44 says it is authorized for operation in over 100 countries, on four continents. The company’s current network coverage includes service over the US, Mexico and Canada, with transatlantic coverage linking North America and Europe expected this year.


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