Having long vowed to offer passengers free surfing, Delta Air Lines signaled this week that it was ready to make good on its commitment, with CEO Ed Bastien promising from the CES floor in Las Vegas that members of the carrier’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program would. You’ll be able to take advantage of free Wi-Fi, with T-Mobile as sponsor, starting February 1 and on 700 Viasat Ka-band IFC-equipped domestic aircraft by the end of the year.
But while it’s certainly worthwhile that a major US airline is willing to offer free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights, Delta isn’t technically a leader in this regard. JetBlue Airways has offered free Viasat-powered internet to passengers for nearly a decade. And outside the US, a handful of carriers have also seen fit to support this free feature.
Take Intelsat customer Japan Airlines, for example. In 2017, JAL announced that it would introduce Free access to the Internet To all customers traveling on domestic routes, as supported by the traditional Gogo (now Intelsat) Ku-band air communication system installed years ago on some 77 JAL aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 767s and 777s.
Japan Airlines has now announced that it is expanding free in-flight internet service for its Embraer E190 fleet, having already installed Intelsat’s most advanced 2Ku IFC solution in the first 14 E190s operated by its regional carrier, J-AIR.
The E-190 previously only offered IFE radio service to passengers. By fall 2024, when the 2Ku installation is complete, they will offer both solutions, making J-AIR the first regional operator in Japan to offer both in-flight entertainment and connectivity, as well as the first E190 aircraft globally equipped with the Intelsat 2Ku system.
“Adding 2Ku will enable the same free internet experience they’ve had since 2017 on larger aircraft. For Intelsat, this is a great offering for other E190 operators around the world who want to offer free service to all their passengers,” says Dave Begor. , Senior Vice President, Commercial Aviation Corporation, Intelsat.
The 2Ku package is optimized for larger transport aircraft. But Japan Airlines and Intelsat have seen fit to bring it to the 2-2 component E190.
“Intelsat’s capable and reliable 2Ku system will provide miles of entertainment for our customers making J-AIR the first regional aircraft to offer IFC services in Japan,” says Keisuke Suzuki, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Japan Airlines.
Separately, Intelsat is working with cable and wire specialist Carlisle Interconnect Technologies to offer a new broadband onboard connectivity solution that can operate seamlessly on NGSO and GEO networks and is Optimized for the narrower fuselage of regional jets.
The Ka1717-branded low-power package for regional aircraft will compete with a new breed of electronically steerable antennas as well as next-generation air-to-ground offerings in North America and elsewhere.
During an interview with Runway Girl Network at the APEX/IFSA EXPO in Long Beach, CarlisleIT Sales Director, Asia Pacific Jerome Viagas explained that his company “provides all the chassis and the adapter board, the radome and all the integration and certification packages. To integrate these antennas into the aircraft and make sure we have the package complete structural in order to adapt these antennas to the aircraft.
ThinKom and CarlisleIT plan to test an RJ-focused Satcom antenna this year.
It is not yet clear whether Delta will consider this IFC package for regional jet outfits. Delta reported from CES It plans to provide free Wi-Fi on international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024. Its regional aircraft are currently equipped with air-to-ground connectivity, as operated by Intelsat (and supported by the Gogo Business Aviation network). Intelsat’s Ku-band and 2Ku IFC solutions are currently equipped for Delta Longhaul aircraft (International Carrier IFC commitment on A330 and A350 aircraft). Expired July 2022). while, Connect loyalty to free Wi-FiAs Delta has done, it is a growing trend.
Featured image credited to J-Air