This afternoon I had a very enlightening conversation with ViaSat director of regulatory affairs Daryl Hunter concerning the firm's objection to Row 44's application to the FCC for a permanent AMSS license. I'm going to need a little bit of time to sort through this, but here's a taste.
"We don't believe Row 44 can point the antenna as accurately as they say they can. If the antenna is mis-pointed, there is a very real likelihood of interference into adjacent satellite networks."
The problem is not Row 44's AeroSat antenna, which coincidentally has been selected by ViaSat to support its own plan for offering Ku band-based connectivity to airlines (I previously wrote that ViaSat picked the AeroSat antenna for large VIP aircraft so this bit of news makes perfect sense.)
Indeed, it's the way Row 44 is going about the thing that has ViaSat so hot under the collar, according to Hunter. Yes, I'm hoping to talk with Row 44 again soon.
In the meantime, expect more from my interview with Hunter tomorrow. On a not unrelated aside, however, I spoke with Southwest Airlines yesterday. They confirm that installation of Row 44's system on a single Boeing 737 is scheduled for the 16th of this month, but say the trial won't get underway until January (a tad later than planned).
Southwest says Row 44's temporary license will allow the carrier to kick start the trial but the carrier won't be able to charge passengers until permanent authority is awarded the California firm. No doubt Alaska Airlines will be in the same boat.
And here's one more "but". ViaSat is preparing to dispute what it believes is Row 44's unauthorized transmissions (from that Albatross aircraft) and its commercial trial plans.
Uh boy. This is getting interesting, no? Maybe I'm not such a tease after all.