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In-flight WiFi can bog down with lots of bored travelers sharing it. But JetBlue announced today in a company email that its in-flight WiFi will be fast enough early next year to stream movies and TV shows to each airline passenger.
JetBlue said in a memo obtained by The Verge that it will launch high-speed wireless networking on its planes in the first quarter of 2013. Right now, JetBlue uses ViaSat for its WiFi networking. The airline says it will provide free in-flight connectivity until at least 30 planes have been equipped with the high-speed satellite-based WiFi. After a trial period, the service will remain free for email and browsing. But you’ll pay if you want to stream Netflix shows or other movies (like Dark Shadows, pictured above) during the flights. JetBlue expects to deploy the first satellites in a partnership with LiveTV and ViaSat.
The memo said that JetBlue considers free in-flight connectivity to be a competitive advantage over other airlines, particularly those that offer slow service. Only a small percentage of current passengers are satisfied with in-flight WiFi today, the memo said, based on a survey by FlightView. JetBlue promises the ability to load 10 web pages in 1 minute and 18 seconds, compared to 8 minutes and 42 seconds for a rival. JetBlue launched a Ka-band satellite in October with the latest technology.
JetBlue first offered BetaBlue connectivity in 2007, but JetBlue acknowledged that it wasn’t easy to endure in terms of service quality.