Promising the fastest Wi-Fi in the sky, Row 44's satellite-based airline broadband service wins operating approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
After a longer than expected approval process, Row 44 said Aug. 6 the Federal
Communications Commission has approved the company's satellite-based in-flight
Wi-Fi for commercial aircraft. Combined with licenses already granted in Canada
and Mexico, Row
44 plans to offer uninterrupted airborne Internet service throughout the North
Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines have already held trials using Row 44
technology. Customers using the service will have the full range of online
activities, including Web browsing, online music, e-mail and instant messaging.
VOIP service and cell phone use are banned by the FCC.
Click here to read more about Alaska Airlines' trial Wi-Fi service.
The Row 44 system provides downlink data rates averaging 30M bps and 620K bps
maximum in the uplink direction. Along with providing broadband for passengers,
Row 44's technology also provides airlines a broadband link for operational
data. The system weighs less than 150 pounds.
"Ours is the first solution offering true broadband to airline
passengers, both domestically and overseas, delivering an experience comparable
to the high Internet speeds they enjoy at home and work," Row 44's CEO
John Guidon said in a statement. "Achieving this critical regulatory milestone
took us longer than we'd anticipated, but we believe our North American airline
partners and their passengers will find this in-flight service well worth the
Aircell, Row 44's competitor in providing airline Wi-Fi, uses
ground-to-airplane technology. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin
America are using Aircell technology on selected flights and AirTrans plans to
deploy broadband Internet access using Aircell on every flight across its
entire fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft.
Row 44 claims its satellite-based system provides the fastest Wi-Fi in the
air. The system is supported by the global infrastructure of Hughes Network
Systems. "No longer will an airline be forced to accept an unattractive
compromise between the performance it can offer and the service price it must
charge," Guidon said.
Row 44's major system components include a low-profile
antenna mounted on the top of the fuselage. Four compact line-replaceable units
are installed above the cabin headlining just below the antenna: a server
management unit, a high power amplifier, an antenna control unit and a modem
data unit. To distribute a Wi-Fi signal, one or more wireless access units are
placed in the airplane cabin.