Good gracious, is it me or is the world of IFE&C continuing to hot up out there? I’m not talking about the OnAir eye candy below, cheeky monkey! Here are a few updates smouldering on the burner.
Royal Jordanian Airlines has launched OnAir’s on-board mobile phone service on an Airbus A319, enabling passengers to make and receive calls as well as exchange e-mail and text messages.
Passengers will also be able to access the Internet through GSM cards on laptop computers.
Asked by RWG about the speed and efficiency of the Internet via OnAir, which is supported by Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband, Royal Jordanian pointed out that it “has not yet been 48 hours now; so we need some more time to get the real feedback on this”. Fair play to ya. I can be an eager little beaver at times.
Meanwhile, Brazilian start-up Azul is offering stored in-flight entertainment (IFE) content on some of its aircraft until the carrier’s television offering is ready to go live. Four ex-JetBlue Airways Embraer 190s operating in Azul’s fleet are currently outfitted with JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV’s IFE hardware.
The E-190s have live television capability “but they’re just showing four channels of stored content right now”, says an Azul spokesman. Azul also flies three new Embraer 195s and is adding more new airliners to it fleet. The carrier intends to offer LiveTV’s live television service by the end of this year or early next, says the spokesman.
However, it appears the timeline for launching live television on Azul is trending towards the right. Previously Azul seemed a bit more confident in a LiveTV launch by year-end.
LiveTV declined to comment, but VP of marketing and sales Mike Moeller previously explained some of the challenges of bringing in-flight live televison to a Brazilian operator.
“Every region has a different DBS [direct broadcast satellite] provider with different satellite gains, frequencies, receiver cards, polarizations, look angles, etc. This forces the hardware provider to design the correct antenna that delivers the optimum performance in a region. Unfortunately, it is not a one size fits all approach,” said Moeller. EMS is designing and supplying the antenna for Azul.
Now then, I recently had a long chat with Aircell CEO Jack Blumenstein. I released a quick and dirty here, but you’ll note the key points are: 1) Aircell is working with a major satellite player on a hybrid solution to offer airlines an overseas solution; 2) Aircell is pushing out one Gogo-equipped Delta aircraft every day “like boxes of popcorn”; and 3) Aircell is now working with seven carriers, of which two are undisclosed. We’ll have more from that interview later.
Marsha, I mean Aircell, Aircell, Aircell. With all the news about Aircell, you might be wondering – what’s up with Ambit’s lawsuit against Aircell? Whose lawsuit? Ambit of course! If you want more details, I can dredge them up for ya. But, from what I hear, folks are not giving too much credence to this suit. Yeah, yeah, I know. Famous last words, right? Aircell says it does not comment on pending legislation. But I’m going to hazard a guess that Aircell did it’s homework on this one.
So who does comment? And what about? Well, I asked a knowledgeable industry chap for his thoughts about that The Internet Safety Act that I was lambasting the other day. Here’s what he has to say about that.
Yes, Section 5 of the legislation (two-year data retention) is a bit disturbing. Under the banner of child protection, the bills significantly extend the data retention requirement for ISPs and other electronic communications services providers. Indeed, if broadly interpreted, the requirement could be viewed as applying not only to traditional ISPs but also to any person or entity that facilitates Internet access (e.g., anyone who sets up a WAP, hotels with Internet access, businesses that facilitate employee access to the Internet, schools, libraries, universities, etc.). This is quite a mandate!
Section 3 of the legislation (defining the offence of Internet facilitation) also seems broadly worded. In particular, the inclusion of email service providers is troubling because criminalizing “conduct the provider knows or has reason to believe facilitates access to” covered content may be difficult to interpret since by its very nature email may facilitate access to covered content. Further, the “reason to believe” standard suggests that the email service provider should (or at least may) expand monitoring of email traffic to avoid potential liability, which raises separate data protection and privacy issues.
So this was a rather useful exercise after all? No comment!