It was bound to happen – a road warrior and blogger tries out JetBlue’s free but limited in-flight email and messaging service, writes about its limitations, and then tells the carrier plainly to offer a proper Wi-Fi service.
In a “memo to JetBlue”, The VAR Guy says: “Um, there’s only one thing worse than no WiFi service… it’s free service where you don’t really have full access to the Web. And in this case, JetBlue’s decision to offer such a limited menu of Internet content was painfully lame.”
Readers of Runway Girl know that I’m a huge fan of JetBlue (I LOVE IT). The JFK-based carrier changed the entire US in-flight entertainment landscape with its live television offering, care of now-subsidiary LiveTV.
But as hard as it is for me to say this, I think The VAR Guy is dead-on. JetBlue needs to step up its Wi-Fi offering ASAP if it wants to remain competitive with its peers – AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines/Northwest Airlines and Virgin America, which are all offering Aircell’s Gogo broadband service.
You can add Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines to the list when Row 44 receives permanent authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its Ku-band-based connectivity service, of which both carriers are currently trialling. Yes, that authority has been a long time in coming and if it doesn’t come soon, I’ll have to go back to trolling the FCC web-site for updates on my Friday nights. Oh dear God, nooooooo!
But back to JetBlue. As reported here previously, the low-cost carrier intends to offer passengers a broadband-like experience via LiveTV’s Oasis connectivity product in the near-term.
Oasis will combine the low-data rate capability of LiveTV’s Kiteline service (named thusly because it offers a thin pipe from the aircraft to the ground) with LiveTV’s ability to upload large amounts of cached content to onboard servers via its wireless aircraft data link (WADL). It’s clever but will it be enough?
Passengers’ appetites for high-speed Internet is clearly growing – thanks to Aircell. Will Oasis satiate The VAR Guy?
“The VAR Guy will gladly pay $9(US) for in-flight WiFi that offers complete Internet access. In the meantime, please stop teasing your loyal customers with such a limited, useless service. Admittedly, the JetBlue in-flight WiFi service is in beta. Let’s hope the final, production system is vastly different.”
Meanwhile, LiveTV is looking past the here and now and into the future with a possible Ka-band-based product. Will those studies need to be stepped up? So many questions…