United Airlines Begins Offering Satellite Wi-Fi On Overseas Flights

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United Airlines has announced that inflight Wi-Fi is now available on the first of its international wide-body aircraft, which makes it the only U.S. carrier to currently offer an Internet connection on long-haul overseas routes. The company said that it expects to install Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft (including Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft, and Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft) by the end of this year. Here are the specs:

The Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft is a Boeing 747-400 that serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes. It’s outfitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). We’ve also outfitted two Airbus 319 aircraft serving domestic routes with Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi.

Passengers who want to connect their laptops or mobile devices to the in-flight hotspot while onboard can choose from two speeds: standard, priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the duration of the flight, and Accelerated, which offers faster download speeds and is priced initially below $5.99 and $19.99.

This is not the first time a U.S. carrier has experimented with Wi-Fi service on long-haul flights. Boeing launched Connexion, its high-speed broadband service, in 2004, but it was only widely available in Europe and Asia before being discontinued in December 2006 due to lack of customer interest (fees were high, usually starting at $9.95 for one hour of access). German airline Lufthansa sought to relaunch the service in 2007, and since December 2010 has offered Ku-band satellite Internet, the same technology now being offered by United Airlines.