JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV is pressing ahead with plans to trial a new global in-flight connectivity service over Iridium satellites by the end of the year.

The so-called Aero OpenPort terminal - developed in partnership with Iridium and branded 'Kiteline World' - boasts an antenna that is "only the size of a pasta bowl but it offers truly global coverage and a 128 kbps data rate", notes LiveTV CEO Nate Quigley.

"We're planning a flight trial by the end of the year and should have more to say about it in the months ahead," he tells ATI and Flightglobal.

LiveTV previously touted a basic email and messaging solution for the US commercial sector. Known simply as Kiteline, the air-to-ground (ATG)-based service has been in operation on a single JetBlue Airbus A320 for over two years.

However, LiveTV's efforts to expand Kiteline have not borne fruit. And JetBlue is no longer confirming a commitment to roll out Kiteline on additional aircraft.

JetBlue says it will define its in-flight connectivity strategy this summer. It has not confirmed a test of Kiteline World.

In addition to pursuing Kiteline World, Quigley says LiveTV continues to develop the basic Kiteline platform - including ATG spectrum and ground station network (acquired from Verizon Airfone) - for its general aviation customers in the United States.

"We've been encouraged by response from our existing Airfone voice customers to the 'Kiteline GA' upgrade kit and service that we've developed with help from our Airfone business unit," says Quigley.

"The kit is a very low-cost 'carry on' product that allows existing Airfone customers to send and receive email over iPhones and Wi-Fi Blackberry devices without any additional installed equipment. We basically just ship the kit and the very next day the customer can use the service."

The LiveTV CEO reveals that the company intends to shortly announce a partnership "with a leading avionics sales and distribution company" to further develop the Kiteline general aviation opportunity.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news