JetBlue brings Wifi to its full fleet

JetBlue Airways has become the latest airline to introduce Wifi on all its planes, meaning there’s one less place for us all to hide from work.

The airline’s full fleet of over 160 planes will get inflight broadband from mid-2012, following a deal with satellite company ViaSat.

“In just the three years since we launched BetaBlue, the first commercial aircraft with simple messaging capability, technology has advanced by generations,” said CEO Dave Barger.

“Rather than invest in current technology, designed to transmit broadcast video and audio, we elected to partner with ViaSat to create broadband functionality worthy of today’s interactive personal technology needs.”

Unlike many of its competitors, JetBlue isn’t using Aircell’s Gogo technology; instead, the system uses ViaSat’s advanced Ka-band satellites. Under the arrangement, ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam 2 modems for installation on the airline’s EMBRAER E190 and Airbus A320 aircraft, along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and ViaSat-1 satellites.

JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV will handle the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components on board the aircraft, as well as providing Wifi-enabled entertainment services. The system’s expected to offer speeds of up to 50Mbps.

“The breakthrough bandwidth economics of ViaSat-1 extends the passenger internet experience beyond just e-mail and web pages and creates a world of possibilities for personalized broadband entertainment,” says Mark Dankberg, ViaSat CEO and chairman.

“This is exactly the type of application and user experience that we believe will help transform the satellite broadband industry.”

If the airlines are to be believed, we’re all clamoring for on-board Wifi. A survey last year from American Airlines and HP found that air travelers thought Wifi was more important than food.