JetBlue plans to launch Wi-Fi service

By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / September 23, 2010

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JetBlue Airways, the largest carrier at Logan International Airport, is getting into the Wi-Fi game.

The airline said yesterday that it has signed a deal with ViaSat Inc. to bring satellite broadband Internet and television to JetBlue passengers starting in mid-2012.

The satellite system, the first of its kind to be used on commercial aircraft, according to JetBlue, must be tested by the Federal Aviation Administration before it is installed fleetwide.

“This system will be designed for the 21st century, not just for today’s personal connectivity needs, but with the bandwidth to expand to meet tomorrow’s needs as well,’’ JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger said in a statement. “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.’’

AirTran Airways and Virgin America already have Wi-Fi on all their planes, Delta Air Lines expects to be finished installing it on all its domestic planes by the end of the year, and Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are in the process of rolling it out.