Aircell has launched a nationwide tour to educate business aircraft operators about the varying in-flight connectivity solutions available to them and to dispel confusion in the market.

Having gathered intelligence from thousands of customer interactions since 2006, the company will kick off its seminar series on 25 May in Las Vegas. Other cities on the tour include Washington DC and Chicago.

"There has been a wholesale shift in in-flight Internet capabilities for business aviation in the past year - it's an entirely new landscape," says Aircell senior vice-president and general manager John Wade.

"As part of the natural learning curve with these new capabilities, a great deal of confusion has arisen as various providers attempt to hype the virtues of a single network or an equipment package. What's been missing is the chance for operators to get a balanced, straightforward overview of all three high-speed data networks for aviation - Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, Ku-band satellite and Aircell high-speed Internet. This is exactly what Aircell's 2010 in-flight Internet seminar series will provide."

Wade points out that, even with all the latest advances in the in-flight connectivity space, "there is still not a single airborne network that represents everything to everyone".

Aircell's air-to-ground (ATG)-based high-speed Internet solution, for example, is currently only available on flights over the US mainland. It is offered to both the business aviation and commercial aviation markets.

Aircell also offers a separate solution for business aircraft that supports email and light Internet via Inmarsat's 432kbit/s SwiftBroadband aeronautical service over L-band satellites.

The company does not offer a Ku-band-based offering. However, it has been exploring this side of the market for some time.

"In sharp contrast to mobile networks on the ground which are often quite similar, airborne network capabilities can vary drastically. This makes it critical for operators to have a clear understanding of what's available," says Wade.

In tandem with its nationwide tour, Aircell has appointed Dave Salvador as corporate sales manager in the business aviation group.

In his new role, Salvador is responsible "for assisting business aircraft operators in understanding the myriad of airborne communications options available to them", says Aircell.

Separately, Aircell has announced it will soon add a usage-based billing option to its suite of service packages available to business, military and government clients of its ATG-based high-speed Internet solution.

The new service package, available this summer, will allow customers the option of paying based on the monthly volume of data they consume over the network. It contrasts with Aircell's current monthly service plans - 'Ultraspeed Standard' and 'Ultraspeed Lite' - which provide unlimited access for a flat monthly fee.

"Customers with low or sporadic utilization patterns will find great value in getting full access to the Aircell network in a pay-as-you-go format. Adding a 'per megabyte' option to our existing unlimited plans is like adding an a la carte menu to an all-you-can-eat buffet," says Wade.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news