Southwest progresses with Row 44 in-flight Wi-Fi installs

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Southwest Airlines has fitted 105 Boeing 737-700s with Row 44's in-flight connectivity system and estimates the figure "will be well over 100" by year-end.

The US low-cost carrier, which installs the high-speed Internet system at its Indianapolis maintenance facility, expects its entire fleet to be equipped by early 2013, said a Southwest spokeswoman.

Dallas-based Southwest selected Row 44 as its Wi-Fi service supplier in 2009 and signed an equipment purchase contract with the company in early 2010.

Asked about the seemingly slow pace of installs, the Southwest spokeswoman responded: "We have a number of maintenance schedules to keep up with and Wi-Fi is just one of them. It's more the schedule of maintenance than a specific Row 44 issue."

She added: "We are very pleased with the connectivity Row 44's technology provides. Our customers who are on board the Row 44-equipped aircraft enjoy the service."

Furthermore, she said, the take rates on board "are meeting our expectations".

She also revealed that Southwest intends to announce "some enhancements to our portal later this year", though she did not provide details. Row 44 recently inked a number of IPTV deals with news and sports content providers, including with Major League Baseball in a bid to offer a broader multi-media platform to airlines.