Aircell close to defining plan for Wi-Fi on international flights

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Aircell is edging closer to announcing a plan for offering in-flight Wi-Fi on international flights.

"We are currently finalizing with airline partners and when fully on board, we will make an announcement," Aircell executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ash ElDifrawi reveals to ATI and Flightglobal.

For the last few years Chicago-headquartered Aircell has been studying various options for augmenting its Gogo air-to-ground (ATG)-based connectivity solution in the United States with a satellite-supported solution for off-shore and over-water flights.

"This is not just about Aircell wanting to do international trials. It's about the partnerships, the technology being available and the airlines being on board. Right now I'm pretty excited about the progress we've made," says ElDifrawi, who joined the firm in October after holding leadership positions at online mass merchant retailer Hayneedle, Google and others.

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ElDifrawi adds that Aircell has been working "hot and heavy" on the international offering and is close to defining the plan.

The company does not say if it will use L-band or Ku-band satellite capacity, or if it will wait until Ka-band connectivity is available. "We're finalizing with the airlines our technology road-map," notes ElDifrawi.

Aircell has secured several customers for its Gogo ATG service, including legacy carriers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and United Airlines.

In-flight Wi-Fi on overseas flights could become more important to international operators now that Lufthansa has re-instated its Ku-band-based FlyNet in-flight Internet offering under a partnership with Panasonic Avionics.

Lufthansa is currently the only carrier offering high-speed Internet over the Atlantic.