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January 16, 2013

United Airlines Unveils Satellite-Based Wi-Fi Service

By Carolyn J Dawson, TMCnet Contributor

United Airlines has unveiled onboard satellite-based Wi-Fi internet connectivity on its maiden global wide-body aircraft. Customers will now be able to be in touch while traveling on long-haul overseas routes with this unique offering from United Airlines.

Panasonic (News - Alert) Avionics Corporation's Ku-band satellite technology has been incorporated in the aircraft. The aircraft is a Boeing (News - Alert) 747 and normally operates on trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.

Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi has also been integrated by United on two Airbus 319 aircrafts, which operate on domestic routes. As compared to the air-to-ground technology, customers travelling on these aircrafts will be offered quicker in-flight Internet service. United aims to implement satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircrafts by year end.

In a statement, Jim Compton, vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United said, "Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline. With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly."

Two speed options for Internet access will be offered to United customers. A Standard package will be available for prices ranging from $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the flight time. The Accelerated package, offering quicker download speeds as compared to Standard, will be available for prices ranging from $5.99 and $19.99.

Satellite-based Wi-Fi will be implemented by United on Airbus 319 and 320 aircrafts, along with Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircrafts. Customers can therefore operate wireless devices on these aircrafts, and be in touch via Internet service utilizing the in-flight hotspot.

United will be spending a minimum of $550 million to advance its fleet. United plans to introduce several onboard enhancements, like providing flat-bed seats.  A minimum of 175 aircrafts are expected to be installed with 180-degree flat beds in premium cabins by the second quarter. United aims to extend legroom in the Economy Plus seating along with providing an enhanced premium cabin with fully flat beds, Wi-Fi Internet service, and individual on-demand entertainment at each seat on the transcontinental "p.s." fleet. United aims to enhance in-flight entertainment choices by offering streamed video content on the Boeing 747-400 fleet.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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