JetBlue, ViaSat still in talks for definitive in-flight Internet deal

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JetBlue Airways and ViaSat are working to reach a definitive agreement covering the installation of Ka-band satellite-based in-flight connectivity across the carrier's fleet, though the two parties failed to thrash out a deal before year-end as previously expected.

"We are currently working diligently on a contract that reflects the great partnership. Meanwhile, our technical teams are working on the science," says a JetBlue spokeswoman.

In September 2010 JetBlue inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ViaSat to bring high-speed in-flight Internet to its 160-strong aircraft fleet. ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and 'SurfBeam2' modems for installation on JetBlue's Airbus A320 and Embraer E-190 aircraft along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and new high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellites.

JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV, which supplies live television across JetBlue's fleet, will manage the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components onboard the aircraft, leading the certification process and handling the installations. LiveTV will also bring Wi-Fi enabled services into the overall cabin experience.

Responding to a separate report today that JetBlue is in talks to spin-off LiveTV, a JetBlue spokeswoman underscored the role that both LiveTV and ViaSat will play in the carrier's connectivity strategy. "We believe LiveTV continues to offer best-in-class products and we expect them to remain central to our plans in creating the next generation of the on-board experience in conjunction with our business partner, ViaSat," she says.