Alaska nears Wi-fi decision

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Alaska Airlines continues to evaluate in-flight internet providers and appears close to finalising an agreement after offering Wi-fi access on a single Boeing 737-700 aircraft last year.

The carrier has completed a test of Row 44's broadband solution on revenue flights, and is now deciding between Row 44's satellite-based solution or Aircell's air-to-ground (ATG)-based broadband system Gogo

"We'll definitely be making a decision here in the coming weeks on which system " Alaska vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience Steve Jarvis said during a recent discussion with investors. He adds that the Seattle-based carrier will focus first on deploying connectivity on its 51 737-800s to enable Wi-fi access on long-haul and transcontinental business routes in 2010.

In addition to equipping its -800s, Alaska this year aims to equip its 64 other 737 aircraft, which include a mix of -700s, -900s, and -400s.

"We'd like to have the entire fleet done but at this point in time, the decision needs to come first and then we'll start working as fast as we can to get aircraft deployed," Jarvis says. "I can't promise you the whole fleet in 2010, but that's our goal."