American Airlines selected ViaSat for connectivity on its Boeing 737 MAX fleet. ViaSat’s in-flight internet service has been recognized with multiple industry awards for delivering the best performing, highest-quality and fastest in-flight internet experience. The service encourages higher passenger engagement per plane by offering an ‘at home’ internet experience when in-flight – with the ability to stream movies, videos, television and music, as well as surf the web, upload pictures to social media, email large files and more.
The new American MAX fleet will tap into the power of ViaSat’s high capacity Ka-band satellite system, which includes ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 satellites, and has more capacity in orbit than any other in-flight Wi-Fi provider. American will leverage ViaSat’s first two generation satellite platforms, which together provide more capacity than all of the commercial satellites over North America combined. When the first ViaSat-3 class satellite platform launches in 2019, it will more than double the capacity again. With its capacity-rich satellite platforms, ViaSat claims it is able to deliver the fastest, highest quality in-flight internet service to each connected device on a plane.
“Our satellite bandwidth enables an “at home” internet experience that can serve everyone on the plane – and empowers innovative business models for airlines and their passengers,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO. “We are delighted and honored to have the opportunity to work with American Airlines and help fulfill their goal of delivering the best in-flight Wi-Fi experience throughout their fleet. We believe we are now approaching the end of an era where passengers have paid very high prices for very slow connections. Our agreement highlights a significant initial step for American to deliver an on-board Wi-Fi experience every passenger will want to use.”
As an internet service provider, ViaSat already serves nearly 700,000 residential and business users with high-speed, high-quality satellite internet. The ViaSat network is also the key to supporting thousands of simultaneously connected aircraft, each with dozens to hundreds of connected devices. The first 737 MAX aircraft with the ViaSat in-flight internet system are scheduled to go into service in September 2017.
Currently American’s fleet uses Gogo for in-flight connectivity. Gogo is the in-flight connectivity market leader in commercial aviation. Its solution provides speeds up to 10 Mbps from the ground per aircraft. ViaSat claims its satellite-based service provides speeds of 12 Mbps per passenger.
United, Virgin America and JetBlue also utilize the ViaSat system. American will however still add 134 Airbus aircraft to Gogo’s new 2ku satellite-based service. Gogo says this service offers speeds of up to 70 Mbps.
The decision by American is good for the industry. Passengers on American will now see two vendors battle for offering the fastest and most reliable connectivity. Pricing should become more reasonable. But more importantly, access and reliability will improve. This is good for everyone. Unfortunately, there are airlines (like Delta) that are wedded to one solution.