US airborne telephony provider Verizon Airfone will assume any costs associated with its decision to stop offering JetConnect service on-board aircraft this summer.

According to Airfone president William Pallone, the gradual phase out of JetConnect's service will be relatively straightforward, noting it involves "a software change" and does not require any hardware being removed from the airliners. He declines to divulge the costs the move will incur.

Last month Airfone disclosed that JetConnect would be withdrawn from its product line by July, a transition the company says "will take several months due to the fact that JetConnect is installed on more than 800 aircraft". The move will impact JetConnect customers Continental Airlines and United Airlines. The latter offers JetConnect on its entire domestic fleet as well as some international services. US Airways, which had planned to equip its domestic Airbus fleet with JetConnect's instant and text messaging and two-way email services, only trialled the service, says Pallone.

He says take-up of JetConnect - which passengers access by plugging their laptops into jacks on Airfone handsets for a price - was "okay [but] like many products, you hope they do better than they do".

Airfone's reasons for pulling JetConnect from the market are twofold - the company wants to concentrate on its broadband offerings, and the US Federal Communications Commission has decided to auction the 4MHz spectrum within the 800MHz band that Airfone uses for its narrowband services.


Source: Flight International