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Southwest eyes 4Q for Internet trial

Southwest Airlines intends to trial Row 44's Ku band-based connectivity service during the fourth quarter, somewhat later than originally planned.

The US low-cost giant, which is well known for providing passengers with a bare bares in-flight experience, in January said it hoped to begin testing the high-speed service on four Boeing 737s this summer.

"It's a new process for us so there are approvals that we're going through and the technology is new for Southwest as well," says a Southwest spokeswoman, who confirms the carrier's expectation that tests will occur in the fourth quarter.

Customers will be able to access the Internet, e-mail and virtual private networks (VPNs) using their Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Pricing has not yet been determined but it will be "in line with our low-fare model", says the spokeswoman.

Southwest isn't working with any other connectivity providers at this point. "We are concentrating on Row 44 and this stage is the proof-of-concept. We're working with them and only them right now," she adds.

Alaska Airlines also plans to press forward with a test of California-based Row 44's system onboard a 737.

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