JetBlue Airways today confirmed it will start testing wireless connectivity services onboard an Airbus A320 beginning Dec 11.
Kudos to JetBlue for this well-timed marketing move – the carrier will technically be the first in the US to offer connectivity over WiFi-enabled devices. But let’s put their announcement in perspective, shall we?
First of all, JetBlue’s offering will be limited at best. The carrier says passengers who have WiFi-enabled laptops – AND Yahoo Mail or Messenger accounts – will be able to send and receive messages during flight. Passengers who have RIM’s new WiFi-enabled Blackberries – the 8320 and 8820 models – will have access to emails and messaging.
JetBlue’s LiveTV subsidiary last year won a 1MHz narrowband license during the FCC’s auction of 4MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band allocated to air-to-ground services.
AirCell, you’ll recall, won the exclusive 3MHz broadband license at the FCC auction, and is preparing to offer service onboard American Airlines' transcontinental Boeing 767s (the test begins as early as March). Passengers will have access to e-mail, Internet and VPN accounts via virtually all WiFi-enabled devices.
I’d love to know more details about JetBlue’s offering (just how many passengers will be able to send/receive Yahoo email at one time, at what speed, etc, etc), but JetBlue has told me they don’t intend to discuss the issue until next week. Spoil Sports.