In-flight Internet connectivity has been quite the rage this year. Almost every US-based carrier has announced some sort of initiative to get Internet onto their aircraft in one form or another. And while Row44 and Aircell duke it out for signing up customers today, it appears that a third competitor is just around the corner: LiveTV.
LiveTV’s Internet solution today consists of one jetBlue plane flying around with their KiteLine service on board. The KiteLine service is incredibly limited in terms of what one can access, but it is also free, a major differentiator between it and the Aircell/Row44 camps. But according to LiveTV’s CEO, another satellite-based solution is coming quickly, like early next year, and the new one is going to have WAY more bandwidth available to it.
Certainly it makes sense to go where the costs are lower, but that has to be tempered by the need to go to market at a particular point in time. Thus far only Continental has stepped up to say that they intend to wait out the rush to provide Internet service in favor of finding out if customers are actually willing to pay for it. And it just so happens that Continental is aligned with LiveTV for their other in-flight Internet offerings. What an interesting coincidence.
If LiveTV can offer their Ka-Band sattelite service for free to customers of their TV service that would be a hugely disruptive force in the market. Of course, there is no guarantee that it will be free, but they do expect to have it in the air in 2010, so at least we won’t have to wait too long to find out what will really happen with it.
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