Southwest completes wi-fi installation on 737-700s and -800s

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Southwest Airlines has completed the installation of Row 44's Ku-band wi-fi on its fleet of 417 Boeing 737-700s and -800s, the carrier says.

The Dallas-based low-cost carrier will also start offering streaming, on-demand video content in addition to the live television channels that it is already broadcasting through Row 44's satellite connectivity system to passengers' personal electronic devices. The aircraft with connectivity installed comprise about 75% of the Southwest fleet.

Southwest says that it is now ready to start ramping up marketing for its connectivity and live television offerings on its aircraft. Part of that process will include expanding live television this year beyond the nine channels it now offers. Throughout the retrofit process, the carrier had been offering connectivity to passengers without heavily promoting it.

Southwest will offer both movie and television packages, each for $5 per day per device. Wi-fi is $8 per day per device. The airline has also built games, shopping and destination information into the interface.

The airline is seeing a reliability rate of about 98% with the service, said Southwest chief Gary Kelly on a 25 January conference call.

Row 44 launched its live television product with Southwest and subsequently started offering on-demand video as another option. Allegiant has chosen the on-demand video system for retrofit on its Boeing 757 fleet flying from the mainland USA to Hawaii.

Southwest first signed an equipment contract with Row 44 in early 2010 for the Ku-band connectivity offering and announced that it started testing the live television channels in June 2012. Future aircraft deliveries will be line-fitted with Row 44.