Bring It! Aircell confident as United trials Row 44

United Airlines’ decision to install Row 44′s Ku-band satellite-based in-flight connectivity system on its Boeing 757 testbed aircraft even as it offers Aircell’s Gogo air-to-ground (ATG) service on over a dozen 757s has prompted many an industry buff to weigh in…privately, as they are apt to do.

One unnamed, untamed cookie, who clearly favors Aircell’s strategy, opines:

“I don’t see it as a threat. It’s a one off and a red herring. The aircraft, N593UA, was reported to be out of service for well over a month for installation. Designing [Gogo] to install on an overnight versus four to six weeks should be the clincher there. A baseball manager told his GM to get good free agents because ‘you can’t win the Kentucky Derby with donkeys’!”

I am certain that Row 44 – which is fitting Southwest Airlines’ entire fleet with its system – would disagree.

But what say Aircell? Company executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ash ElDifrawi recently told RWG:

“I have absolutely no concerns about our product holding up to that. In fact – let United get a look at it [Row 44]. We’re on 13 United planes. They are one of our strongest performing airline partners on those planes. So I think from that perspective, if United wants to make sure they have the best product for the consumers, and want to feel good about what is a real [service], they are taking a very holistic approach, which is smart, and I’m very confident that ours will more than meet the consumers’ needs.”

So now we wait, or as the Wikipedia entry on Row 44 states: “It remains to be seen which provider United will chose in the long term.”

(Funky photo above from Hryck’s Flickr photo stream)

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4 Responses to Bring It! Aircell confident as United trials Row 44

  1. Confused January 5, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Your “unnamed cookie” doesn’t sound like they are familiar with air to ground installations or perhaps a bit biased? I would imagine that part of that month long outage cited is the requirement to get an STE for that aircraft type/configuration by the FAA. How fast is Southwest turning the installation over would be a better indicator than the initial aircraft.

  2. Buck Turgeson January 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    The Row 44 installation is considerably more complex than the Aircell install, I’m guessing the Row 44 aircraft are out a minimum of two days.

    Aircell has demonstrated consistently they can install their system during an overnight, meaning no out of service time for the aircraft.

  3. Jane January 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Row 44 is a bit of a joke in the industry. Constantly making false claims: Lufthansa is alreay flying over the Atlantic with wifi despite Row 44s ‘exclusive’ claim. They say they are the biggest provider of inflight connectivity when they have about 30 planes in the air, and 10x as many complaints as planes. There are a bunch of posts claiming they are a scam and all kinds of rumors about their financial viability. United is slow, but not stupid.

  4. Georgia January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Southwest has got be regretting this Row 44 decision big time. They’re getting their name dragged through the mud, and they realize they’ve invested in a dying technology. Of course Row 44 has to spin a Ku to Ka story… but there isn’t one thats credible and/or won’t cost a fortune.