Southwest Airlines Rejects Arinc/Rockwell Collins’ Bid for In-flight Broadband

A little bit of sccop in the world of in-flight connectivity, for your pleasure…

It seems that the teaming of Arinc and Rockwell Collins has lost a bid to provide Ku band-based broadband connectivity to Southwest Airlines’ fleet of Boeing 737s.

Rockwell has confirmed its joint proposal with Arinc was not accepted by the low-cost carrier. The manufacturer remains convinced that its biggest opportunities in this sector remain with business jets.

Arinc and Rockwell this summer brokered a deal to reintroduce the avionics manufacturer’s Exchange service for business jets, which was disconnected when Connexion by Boeing was shut down last year.

Further to that, Rockwell yesterday completed the purchase of the SkyLink broadband terminal product line from Arinc.

“Through the conclusion of this purchase, Rockwell Collins will be able to offer passengers true broadband connectivity at the lowest service price available for high speed data,” said Tommy Dodson, vice president and general manager, Cabin Systems for Rockwell Collins. “We look forward to providing customers around the world with similar connectivity in the sky to what they experience on the ground.”

So what does Arinc have to say about Southwest’s decision? I’ve called them to find out. You’ll recall that the decision to bid for the Southwest deal represented a reversal for Arinc, which launched SkyLink for business jets in 2003, but later postponed stated plans for deploying its service on board commercial aircraft, citing the financial troubles suffered by US airlines.

Southwest, meanwhile, has yet to reveal its broadband provider. The carrier is one of several US operators readying to offer some form of airborne connectivity services to passengers.

JetBlue Airways has begun testing a limited air-to-ground (ATG) offering on board one of its Airbus A320 aircraft. Frontier Airlines is eyeing a similar offering to JetBlue. American Airlines and Virgin America are working with AirCell – owner of the 3MHz broadband ATG licence – to equip aircraft in 2008. Alaska Airlines recently agreed to trial US firm Row 44’s Ku-band-based solution.

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