United Airlines became the latest airline to announce their in flight broadband plans, today saying they'll be offering Wi-Fi service on their routes between New York and California later this year. According to the airline, they'll be installing Gogo
broadband service on thirteen planes, all of which make the daily trek from JFK in New York City to either Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Whether on United or the four other U.S airlines Aircell now has agreements with, Gogo costs passengers $9.95 on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 on flights of more than three hours. The Gogo service involves 92 EVDO cell sites aimed ever upward, designed to provide 2Mbps+ connectivity to each Gogo enabled plane that passes overhead. VoIP is banned, though VPN connectivity works.
"We are investing in products and services that are most important to our customers, and having Wi-Fi access on board is something that they have told us is key to making their flights more productive and enjoyable," proclaims Dennis Cary, senior vice president and chief customer officer for United.
Like most in flight broadband announcements, United Airline's announcement today is welcome news but a little underweight. United isn't committed to a broader deployment of Gogo yet, simply saying they'll be assessing customer feedback on these initial flights to determine additional rollout plans. Only Virgin and Delta say they'll ultimately be deploying the service across their entire fleet, and for the former, that's not a particularly huge task.
Despite being somewhat of a no-brain offering and broadly deployed overseas, in flight broadband in the States has had a very rocky road in implementation. By and large that's due to the the sorry financial state of our airline industry, made evident by the crater that is Boeing's defunct Connexion service
. But now Aircell seems positioned to dominate, with their only major competitor (Row44
) still testing their technology with Alaska and Southwest Airlines.