Southwest Airlines to test satellite-delivered Internet access on flights

Dallas: Southwest Airlines will become the first US carrier to test satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on aircraft this summer. Southwest will provide customers with a wi-fi enabled device full access to the Internet, including e-mail, music, shopping a well as virtual private networks through a high-speed connection.

Southwest Airlines is partnering with a California firm, Row 44, and will begin testing Internet capabilities on four aircraft this summer.

"Southwest Airlines is pleased to announce its partnership with Row 44, and we intend to deliver the highest bandwidth available to commercial airlines in the United States," said Dave Ridley, Southwest Airlines' senior vice president of marketing. "Southwest's selection of satellite technology will offer a more robust experience for more customers per aircraft versus other solutions available in the marketplace."

"Southwest is looking for the best solution for our customers not only for Internet e-mail access, but for additional in-flight entertainment as well," Ridley said. "We look forward to exploring this cutting-edge technology with Row 44 and hope this will keep our customers productive and entertained in-flight."

"We're excited to partner with Southwest Airlines to keep passengers informed, in touch, and entertained," said Gregg Fialcowitz, president of Row 44. "This service will set the standard for excellence in in-flight connectivity."

With almost 37 years of service behind it Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers boarded and currently serves 64 cities in 32 states.

Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,300 flights a day.

Row 44 is a fast, global, fleet-wide solution for in-flight broadband services - high-speed Internet, video entertainment, cell phone support, and airline operational services. The system offers wide-body, narrow-body and even regional jet support along with flexible service deployment options. It says that its service is cost effective because installation is quick, the hardware is light, and the service leverages existing satellite networks.