Another potential setback for LiveTV’s in-flight internet service

It seems that in-flight entertainment and connectivity provider LiveTV just cannot catch a break in getting their in-flight internet product to a deliverable state. First there was the Kiteline product, built on the back of the old Airfone bandwidth spectrum and only ever live on a single plane. That project fell apart when they were unable to get a functional antenna produced for a wider install. From there they moved on to a satellite-based solution, promising higher speeds and lower operating costs. Assuming they can get it in the air.

JetBlue‘s BetBlue, the only commercial plane to fly with the LiveTV Kiteline internet service in operation.


That effort hit a speed bump this week when International Launch Services (ILS), the company tasked with sending the necessary satellite from partner ViaSat into space this year, suffered a failure on Sunday when attempting to launch the Ekspress-AM4 communications satellite. Neither that launch nor that satellite are directly related to the ViaSat efforts, but the failure likely means a full stand-down of ILS’s operations until they can figure out what happened and how to prevent it. Given that the ViaSat launch has already been postponed due to "scheduling conflicts with other priority launches" it seems that having the launch date slip again wouldn’t be all that hard to imagine. When the project was originally announced the intended launch date was "early 2011."

On the plus side, the folks at ViaSat are saying that they do not expect this potential delay to impact the LiveTV rollout as they weren’t planning on having any aircraft equipped until early 2012 anyways. But with the rather checkered history of this bird (it was damaged earlier in the year while being transported for testing) and the ongoing delays – plus the rather suspect track record of LiveTV in delivering – it is hard to have a ton of faith in the previously announced timeline.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.