JetBlue inches closer to in-flight Fly-Fi wifi service


JetBlue’s planned Fly-Fi in-flight internet service took another small step forward this week. The FCC issued a blanket approval to ViaSat, the provider of the satellite connectivity, permitting the operation of the uplink and control station which will manage the connectivity. The approval was expected, despite protest from competitor Row44, and is a necessary step in bringing the service online. The license covers the operation of ViaSat’s first three satellites in orbit over the USA: ViaSat 1, WildBlue 1 and ANik F2 and is valid for 15 years with the opportunity for extensions.

FlyFi Radome
The new radome for Fly-Fi on a JetBlue plane. Image courtesy of JetBlue.

The Fly-Fi service is still not live, however. This approval was a necessary one but not the only one. The FAA must still approve the on-board hardware before the planes can fly with the service installed. That approval is currently pending (the test flights were completed this summer following a ground test earlier in the Spring), with a ruling hopeful in the next several weeks. This is the same service that will be used on United Airlines’ 737 fleet once it is approved by the FAA.

Baby steps, to be sure, but it is getting closer.

For more about the install process from JetBlue, including a pretty cool video, check out this post on their blog.

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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.

3 Comments

  1. So, if you had to guess, when would you think this service will be available to consumer JetBlue fliers?

  2. My guess is that the first production plane will be in service by October. No idea how long it will take them to do the retrofits once the first is approved. E90s probably not until 2014 at this point.

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