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Jetblue Rolling Out Free Wi-fi

By Author: Steve Robinson
Total Articles: 468

By starting to introduce free in flight Wi-Fi service this month, JetBlue is further enhancing its value reputation for offering cheap travel options, including cheap airplane tickets, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages.

A basic version of Wi-Fi being called “Simply Surf” will be free during the first half of 2014. Passengers who wish to be able to stream videos or download large files can do so by singing up for a premium service called “Fly-Fi Plus” for $9 per hour.

Pricing for the back half of the year has yet to be decided upon, though JetBlue hopes to keep its basic Wi-Fi option free. The airline views a free option as a highly desirable “people’s product” where passengers can enjoy unlimited web surfing without having to pay for it.

While JetBlue is one of the final U.S. airlines to introduce in flight Wi-Fi, it hopes to make up for its slow start by offering superior speed at an appealing price. The strategy was to wait until the airline found a really good system so that its customers would be offered something that was not available elsewhere.

JetBlue views providing its passengers with the ability to upload photos and videos to Twitter or Facebook from 10,000 feet as an opportunity to engage its customers. This will dramatically change the airline’s social media landscape by opening up opportunities to chat with passengers and receive more immediate feedback.

By offering Wi-Fi in the air JetBlue believes passengers will live tweet, live blog, live film their experiences, and share them in real time.

Unfortunately passengers will not yet be able to order in flight service via social media in the near future.

Initially five JetBlue jets were outfitted with in flight Wi-Fi at the start of 2014. Plans call for Wi-Fi to be added to over 140 planes throughout this year.

Its Wi-Fi service will use high speed satellite connectivity powered by ViaSat and JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV. ViaSat’s satellite system is superior to Wi-Fi services offered by Gogo, Panasonic, and Row44 because it allots high speed bandwidth per passenger instead of per plane.

JetBlue passengers will not have to compete with one another for a strong connection. Download speeds of 20.62 Mbps have been recorded using the new service.

ViaSat’s network today only covers the continental United States, but will expand when ViaSat launches its second satellite in mid-2016. The expanded coverage will make Wi-Fi available on overseas flights to Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe.

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