I gotta jump out of my jolly holiday to tell you this – Row 44 has won permanent authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer its Ku-band-based connectivity service to airlines.
Here is the text of the Row 44 statement that is about to be released:
Row 44 Receives FCC License for its In-Flight Broadband System
Westlake Village, CA (August 6, 2009)–Row 44 Inc., a provider of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi for commercial aircraft, received a permanent operating license from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
This license, along with the license already granted to Row 44 in Canada and right to operate agreement in Mexico, allows the company to provide uninterrupted airborne Internet service throughout the North American continent. Already holding dozens of licenses for operations throughout the world, Row 44 is well on its way to providing global coverage for in-flight broadband.
“Today’s announcement of the FCC’s ruling signals a major victory for Row 44 and our airline customers in our vision of bringing affordable broadband to the skies,” said John Guidon, CEO. “Ours is the first solution offering true broadband to airline passengers, both domestically and overseas, delivering an experience comparable to the high Internet speeds they enjoy at home and work. No longer will an airline be forced to accept an unattractive compromise between the performance it can offer and the service price it must charge. Achieving this critical regulatory milestone took us longer than we’d anticipated, but we believe our North American airline partners and their passengers will find this in-flight service well worth the wait.”
While North American regulators do not currently permit in-flight mobile phone calls or SMS text messaging, the Row 44 system will support these services. The company intends to offer these services to their airline customers throughout the world, wherever such activities are permitted and requested by airlines.
Readers of RWG know what this means, but let’s do a quick run-down of some key points nonetheless:
1) Row 44 is now the only Ku-band connectivity provider fully locked and loaded for business in the United States.
2) The company, which has been trialling its system on Alaska and Southwest 737s can now offer the service fleet-wide (if/when it gets the full green-light from these carriers).
3) The US in-flight Wi-Fi market, currently dominated by Aircell, now has some competition.
4) Ku-band satellites can support connectivity on overseas flights (they did it for Connexion by Boeing). Row 44 is primed to offer US operators a solution for those heavily travelled transatlantic routes, filling the void left by Connexion’s commercial demise.
Let the games begin!