UPDATED: Row 44 could launch on Southwest this week

Updated to include Southwest comment…

Southwest planes.jpgI’m hearing some industry rumblings that Row 44 this week could launch its in-flight Internet solution on Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft. And those industry rumblings appear to be true! Sort of.

A Southwest spokeswoman has just revealed to me that airline staffers are beginning their own testing of the Ku-band-based system. However, she says, formal commercial launch is not likely to occur until mid-February.

Key quote:

“We have the technology installed so far but we are still doing testing within Southwest. We want to make sure we go through all our testing before we put it out to customers.”

So, in all technicality, Row 44 appears to be making good on its vow to kick-start a trial by the end of the month, although the commercial portion won’t begin until February. Details, details.

Southwest says it will initally offer the service free to passengers. “It will be a free test for a couple months. After that, we will regroup and decide where we want to go from there,” says the spokeswoman.

Today’s news comes one day after Row 44 submitted another letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

But what does Southwest think about the ruckus being played out in public FCC documents? Southwest does not believe its plan will be derailed. That’s what.

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