Row 44 raises $21 million for Internet access on planes

Row 44 has raises $21 million in financing to expand its broadband systems for commercial aircraft. PAR Capital Management led the round.

The Westlake Village, Calif., company has scheduled commercial trials of its Internet service with Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines this summer. The company creates a broadband wireless network to enable Internet access, video entertainment, cell phone roaming and airline in-flight communications. It does so by leveraging existing satellite networks.

The company says its wireless 802.11b/g network has a speed of 30 megabits per second and the equipment for it weighs less than 150 pounds. The company says its system is FAA certified and will not interfere with aircraft operations. Competitors include Boeing’s Connexion service, Aircell, OnAir, and Verizon Airfone. Boeing announced that it is discontinuing its service.

Par Capital’s vice president, Ed Shapiro, will join Row 44’s board.