Aircell Adds United to WiFi Carrier Roster

(14 Jan 2009, BWCS Staff)

Following last month's announcement by Delta Airlines in the US that it will offer on-board WiFi services to its passengers, United Airlines has followed suit. The US carrier said today that it plans to introduce WiFi hotspot services on selected transcontinental flights. Should this prove successful, the company said it will look at rolling out the service across its entire fleet.

The initial phase of the project will see 13 Boeing 757 jets being fitted out for the service. These are regularly used on the Chicago-based company's premium cross-country service between New York City and Los Angeles - the flights regularly favoured by business travelers.

United is following in the footsteps of Delta and American Airlines by employing the airborne internet connection company Aircell to provide the in-flight WiFi system. According to Aircell, its Gogo service turns an aircraft into a flying WiFi hot spot by using antennae on the fuselage of the aircraft to connect to cell towers on the ground.

By the end of last year, fewer than 50 aircraft had been outfitted with Aircell's offering. However, CEO Jack Blumenstein said recently that he expects over 2,000 planes to be ready to offer WiFi services using his company's kit by the end of next year. At the same time Southwest, Continental and JetBlue airlines are busy rolling out a rival satellite-based on-board WiFi service.


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