Norwegian Air Shuttle is first to commit to Ku-band satellite broadband
Norwegian Air Shuttle has selected Row 44 to supply broadband passenger connectivity services aboard its entire fleet. The European low-fare operator is the first carrier in the world to commit publicly to one of the new-generation Ku-band services.
The decision represents a major boost to the credibility of Ku-band satellite connectivity. California-based Row 44 is currently on trial with Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, with the former reporting in glowing terms on results to date but not yet committing to a fleet fit.
Prime rival Panasonic continues to work towards launch of its eXconnect offering this autumn and claims an initial customer base of five airlines. The company is also reported to be locked in a tight selection battle with the T-Mobile-led joint venture that declared its hand at the Aircraft Interiors show in Hamburg at the beginning of the month.
Europe’s fifth-largest low-fare carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to use the service - nominally rated at 4Mbit/sec to the seat, 0.5Mbit/sec in the opposite direction - to offer passengers Internet browsing, live television and mobile-phone voice, email and text messaging across its entire route network, comprising 84 destinations in Europe.
Norwegian Air Shuttle’s current fleet comprises more than 40 Boeing 737-300s and -800s. It plans to put Row 44’s equipment into the 11 -800s it has in service as well as a further 47 on order for delivery by 2014. Installation work is due to start in the fourth quarter of this year.
The airline’s selection of Row 44 is the culmination of a process that began in 2007, when it was revealed that it was studying the whole range of available connectivity options.