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Aircell continues to pusue overseas connectivity solution

Aircell remains committed to offering international carriers a Ku-band satellite-based airborne connectivity solution, but the company is not detailing a timeline for bringing the service to market.

Company executive vice-president, airlines John Happ, in a recent interview, said: "It's fair to say that we are primarily focused on the US domestic market, where air-to-ground (ATG) technology is centred and the most viable. But, at the same time, we recognize that the world is round and goes beyond the US borders here, and whether it's the Deltas and Americans, the need to be connected is a global need and it will play out."

Earlier this year Aircell's former president and CEO - and current chairman - Jack Blumenstein revealed that the firm is working with a major satellite player on a hybrid solution to offer airlines the ability to use ATG-based connectivity in North America, but Ku-band on overseas flights. He said a technical trial of the solution could occur "in the next year or so".

Happ, however, is being less precise, saying that the development of the Ku technology "isn't quite as advanced as ATG but it's getting close" but that the firm's involvement in the off-shore, over-water market "is something we remain focused on".

JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV, which currently offers a basic ATG-based email service to airlines, says it is exploring a Ka-band connectivity solution for the USA and Europe.

Happ says that while Aircell is "following what is going on with Ka", the solution would not offer global high-speed airborne Internet. For that, he says, "Ku is your only option".

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