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JetBlue to install Oasis connectivity on 20 more aircraft

JetBlue Airways has committed to rolling out subsidiary LiveTV's Kiteline and Oasis in-flight connectivity product on 20 more aircraft, and says it is taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to a broadband solution the likes of which its competitors have adopted.

KiteLine is LiveTV's basic email and instant messaging product for WiFi-enabled laptops and PDAs. Oasis combines the low-data rate capability of Kiteline with LiveTV's ability to upload large amounts of cached content to onboard servers via its wireless aircraft data link (WADL) and offer a 'broadband like' experience to passengers.

JetBlue has been trialling the offering on a single Airbus A320, dubbed BetaBlue. Passengers access the service for free, "a price point that we feel comfortable with", said company senior analyst product development Sam Kline in a speech today at the World Airline Entertainment Association's (WAEA's) single focus connectivity workshop.

Installations on a further 20 aircraft will begin by the fourth quarter, he says, as part of JetBlue's commitment "to deliver customers an upgrade" to the in-flight live television product now provided at no charge to passengers.

"Our blackberries work 100% as they would on the ground except to make phone calls or SMS texts," says Kline.

He says JetBlue is still trying to figure out where the market is headed in terms of broadband - and how much passengers are willing to pay. "We don't want to have to charge our customers more right now," says Kline.

Several US carriers have opted to install Aircell's Gogo broadband system on some or all of their domestic aircraft, including AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Virgin America and United Airlines. Air Canada is also an Aircell customer.

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