AirCell has won an exclusive air-to-ground (ATG) spectrum licence at auction. The licence will enable the company to launch wireless broadband services for commercial aircraft in 2007, writes Mary Kirby.

For several weeks, Colorado-based AirCell has maintained a low profile, as dictated by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-imposed quiet period surrounding the regulator’s auction of 4MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band allocated to ATG services, which began on 10 May.

The auction closed on 2 June when JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV placed a winning bid of just over $7 million for a 1MHz narrowband licence, nearly 100 rounds after AirCell-affiliated AC BidCo’s $31.3 million bid trumped the competition for the more crucial 3MHz broadband licence. With the quiet period now lifted, the company has begun discussing the auction, its financial restructuring and its planned timeline for enabling passengers to use their own Wi-Fi internet devices – such as laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs) – in a fully-integrated wireless aircraft cabin.

The AirCell network will initially cover the continental USA .

Source: Flight International