In the parking lot with Row 44…

Row 44′s system works well, really well. That’s what a Southwest Airlines executive said yesterday at the WAEA single focus connectivity workshop in Everett, Washington. The same Southwest executive said some other things too, like the fact that the carrier has talked to Aircell about its Gogo broadband solution. But he cleared up one important issue about Row 44′s licensing. Southwest believes the Row 44 system will receive permanent authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the not too distant future.

Row 44′s top executives, CEO John Guidon and president Gregg Fialcowitz, were in attendance at the show. Naturally, I wanted to talk to them about their product, and the objections they’ve faced from ViaSat at the FCC. I also wanted to ask them about Southwest’s Aircell revelation. So, for hook or crook, I approached the two gentlemen and proceeded to give them what essentially was a sales pitch as to why they should talk to me. Why they should dispel the apparent myths about their product – those interference allegations - and a whole bunch of other whys.

But explaining the whys has not been Row 44′s style of late. The California-based company prefers to leave others guessing on a number of issues. That’s particularly unfortunate given today’s news that Lufthansa – the first and largest Connexion by Boeing customer – is ready to reignite that service. Ku, in short, has just received a major shot in the arm at a time when Row 44 is the only Ku-band service provider now operating on aircraft (Alaska and Southwest’s aircraft to be exact).

While Row 44′s thinking does not do this journalist – or this blog – a lick of good, I must say I totally respect the company’s prerogative. But here is my good faith effort nonetheless…

Row 44 1.JPG


Row 44 2.JPG

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11 Responses to In the parking lot with Row 44…

  1. Yossarian July 15, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    RWG-Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

  2. The Sarge July 16, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Yes it does.

    Was expecting a little more from the Row44 guys in Seattle. Just left me wanting. But I must have fallen asleep because I think our bloggeress is making more out of WN’s mention of “talking” with various providers. I didn’t see any fistfights break out between Aircell and Row44 or LiveTV so I think its a real stretch to suggest
    there is more behind this. Someone is stirring the pot. A-hem.

    What I would like to see some discussion on is LiveTV announcing that they only want to servcie single-aisle aircraft. WTF???? I couldn’t believe my ears, but they mentioned it again.

    And one for Aircell…LiveTV said that 90% of users open their laptops and opt not to pay. is this true? And another allegation of note was Aircell dropping pricing? I flew back on an Gogo equipped plane and it was $12.95. Uhhhh, am I missing something?

    Or is LiveTV talking out of the side of their mouth?

  3. Mary Kirby July 16, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Bubble, bubble, toil and… Thanks for your comment Sarge. You should be reading Flight Global’s new IFE&C web site (which complements this blog) – you’d have known about Aircell. Here’s the link :)

  4. Bob July 16, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    No claim of actual interference has been filed against the Row 44 system, to my knowledge. ViaSat obviously screams as loud as they can that the Row 44 system can interfere with adjacent satellites but why would they care about that when they don’t operate any of the adjacent satellites?

  5. Mark July 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    How much is Aircell paying Runway Girl to slam all of their competitors?

    Of course every airline has talks with every provider before making a huge decision like this. Why would this come as a shock to anyone? Southwest Airlines didn’t start talking to Aircell this week, they weighed the options and decided to go with Row 44 because it was more appropriate for their needs. It’s insulting to Southwest to assume that they blindly went with Row 44 without due diligence.

    But seriously, what is the Runway Girl/Aircell Agenda?

  6. Mary Kirby July 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    Nobody is slamming anybody. As a very frequent Southwest flyer, I’d love nothing more than to have high-speed connectivity service on Southwest. If Row 44 is to be the provider, that’s peachy. Getting this service on more than four aircraft has taken far longer than anyone -including Row 44-ever expected.

  7. Mark July 16, 2009 at 3:56 pm #

    Due in no small part to bogus protest filings by ViaSat…

    What are the “whole bunch of other whys” you are referring to? Aren’t they pretty much over the hump once ViaSat’s cries are silenced?

  8. Yossarian July 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Poor RWG. First I think she’s a shill for Row 44, now she gets the same accusation for Aircell. I actually heard from an airline friend that RWG was baiting Aircell about VOIP.

    BTW-I heard you looked great in your yellow dress

  9. The Sarge July 16, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    Here’s a newsflash…

    You can get good odds that everyone has spoken with everyone. I even saw some people from UA and AA speaking with one another. That’s like cats and dogs living together.

    Aircell probably got most of the spotlight because:
    1) Half the company was there (maybe they are relocating?) and
    2) They have the most critical mass right now.

    Its a double-edged sword though, on account that they are open tothe most scrutiny.

    And Mark…

    I heard people saying Mary is in bed (no pun intended) with Aircell or Row44 or LiveTV (Mary-You had some very disturbing sycophants running around so I hope you keep an ample supply of pepper spray).

    You do give airlines too much credit with the whole due diligence comment though.

    Just the same, let me know when you find the missing minutes from Nixon’s talk with Haldeman in the Oval Office.

    Thanks for the info, Mary.

  10. Mary Kirby July 17, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    Yes, I agree – everybody is talking to everybody. But let’s put this into perspective. If Southwest Airlines was in the process of deciding a fleet renewal strategy, and a Southwest executive said the carrier was in talks with Airbus, it would be top news. Yes, I understand a connectivity decision is not on the same scale as that. But I’m a journalist, guys, and Southwest mentioned Aircell by name more than once.

    But, let’s address the bigger question – is RWG “in bed” with anyone.

    Absolutely not!!!

    In 2005 I was among the first group of journalists to try the Aircell system on a bizjet. It was an incredible experience, despite the fact I nearly lost my biscuits due to intense turbulence.

    Last year I was honoured to be among the first journalists given the opportunity to try the Row 44 system on the company’s stunning Albatross testbed (I also climbed all over the aircraft for a photoshoot, which was loads of fun).

    Also last year I became the second journalist to see LiveTVs impressive 80-channel LTV3 system in Florida.

    I feel very grateful – and frankly very blessed – to have been given such access. And I stand in awe of the men and women who work their pants off to bring this technology to passengers. The staffers at Aircell, Row 44 and LiveTV seem to be good people.

    But let me be clear – I do not favour one company over another. If I did, this blog would be nothing more than PR fluff and – apart from being incredibly boring to write – nobody would read it.

    I am, in short, simply trying to do my job. That job is made infinitely easier when a firm agrees to an interview. But again, I respect the fact that some companies simply don’t want to talk. It doesn’t stop me from asking, however.

  11. NextRow July 19, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    Hi Mary,

    Finally a journalist that does her work (at least tries to). I’ve been in the satellite business for many years and it’s a symptoms that is recurring called poor communications that prevents companies like Row44 to actually explain what they are doing. In this case, Hughes Network Systems in in bed with Row44 and in trying to enter the aero business, they are up against…Viasat, of all people. And then we are force-fed sugar-coated articles by trade magazines pseudo-journalists that basically repurpose press releases and then call it a day.

    I’ve seen too many times PR pieces with overblown projections, deafening silences (called omissions) and downright lies to actually believe what I read on websites, offical publications and presentation from most of the industry. Getting it from the horse’ mouth is still the best way to get through all the fluff that surrounds this and other emerging satellite products. I say: Go get them, girl!