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ViaSat inks in-flight wifi deal with American Airlines

American Airlines

Satellite provider ViaSat has signed an exclusivity agreement to provide in-flight wifi connectivity to a new fleet of American Airlines (AA) planes.

Harnessing the bandwidth capabilities of the Ka band, which covers the 26.5-40 GHz frequencies, ViaSat says AA customers using in-flight wifi services on new Boeing 737 MAX planes will be able to stream video, upload and share images – a luxury ill afforded with most existing in-flight wifi offerings today. Recent research conducted by rival satellite player Inmarsat saw 92% of 9,000 passengers say they wanted connectivity on board, and 54% said they’d rather have wifi on board than any other service.

Earlier this year the satellite provider said it will be launching the ViaSat-3 platform; which, by using three satellites on the Ka band, will be able to deliver 100Mbps superfast broadband across the world, even in the most rural areas. ViaSat-3 is not scheduled to launch until 2019, but until that point AA will be utilising its existing ViaSat-1 and 2 flavours. ViaSat says AA will be using the ViaSat-3 system as soon as it becomes available.

“Our satellite bandwidth enables an ‘at home’ internet experience that can serve everyone on the plane – and empowers innovative business models for airlines and their passengers,” said Mark Danberg, ViaSat’s CEO. “We are delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to work with American Airlines and help fulfil their goal of delivering the best in-flight Wi-Fi experience throughout their fleet. We believe we are now approaching the end of an era where passengers have paid very high prices for very slow connections. Our agreement highlights a significant initial step for American to deliver an onboard Wi-Fi experience every passenger will want to use.”

Danberg’s closing comment could be seen as subtle dig at competing in-flight wifi provider Gogo, which was the previous holder of the tender and previously held a firm grip on supplying connectivity to AA’s fleets.

The first ViaSat-connected AA planes are scheduled to take off in September 2017.


4 comments

  1. Anthony Miller 06/06/2016 @ 7:09 pm

    Why is nobody worried about the carcinogenicity of wi-fi? We are heading for a public health disaster if we saturate space and all aircraft with radio frequency fields (wi-fi).

    • Tim Skinner Tim Skinner 06/06/2016 @ 7:19 pm

      As far as I was aware, there’s no causal link between wifi radio frequencies and cancer. I could be wrong, but a quick Google search yields a few recent newspaper clippings suggesting it lacks any substantial carcinogenic properties, no more so than “coffee, carpentry and pickled vegetables” according to this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/11599311/Wi-Fi-is-not-harming-our-chidren-heres-the-evidence.html

      One would have thought, if it were indeed a major threat or posed carcinogenic risk to pretty much everyone everywhere, then we’d know about it by now. I defer to the author of the aforementioned article on the Telegraph. “We can test for that. We have tested for that. It’s fine.”

      • Anthony Miller 13/06/2016 @ 8:54 pm

        Yes you are wrong, as was the Daily Telegraph columnist. In 2011, a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated radiofrequency fields as a class 2B carcinogen, a possible human carcinogen. Since that review a number of studies have been reported. One of the most important was a large case-control study in France, which found a doubling of risk of glioma, the most malignant form of brain cancer, after two years of exposure to cell phones. After five years exposure the risk was five-fold. They also found that in those who lived in urban environments the risk was even higher. In my view, and that of several colleagues who have written papers with me on this issue, these studies provide evidence that radiofrequency fields are not just a possible human carcinogen but a probable human carcinogen, i.e. IARC category 2A. It would be impossible to ignore such an assessment in regulatory approaches.

        It is important to recognize that there are no safe levels of exposure to human carcinogens. Risk increases with increasing intensity of exposure, and for many carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, even more with increasing duration of exposure. Thus the only way to avoid the carcinogenic risk is to avoid exposure altogether. This is why we ban known carcinogens from the environment and why much effort is taken to get people, particularly young people, not to smoke. Indeed we now recognize that exposure to carcinogens in childhood can increase the risk of cancer in adulthood many years later. Further, people vary in their genetic makeup, and certain genes can make some people more susceptible than others to the effect of carcinogens. It is the young and those who are susceptible that we should protect. Thus we should reduce exposure to radiofrequency fields to as low levels as possibly achievable, as we already do for X-rays.

        • Tim Skinner Tim Skinner 14/06/2016 @ 11:11 am

          This is from the WHO: “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”

          That same WHO statement goes on to say that further research into the specifics of radiofrequency as a cause of long-term, or short-term, health defects “does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating”. Furthermore, with a long term view it says animal studies show no increased cancer risk for long-term exposure to radiofrequencies.

          If your point of view is that no level of risk is justified, then presumably the only solution is to turn off radio altogether, and it’s my opinion that would be far more destructive.

          Article here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/

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