Internet in planes: First Ku-band Internet provider gets an FCC License


After spending months as a trial service on planes from Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, Row 44 finally got an FCC license allowing them to offer service in the United States, with Row 44 already approved in dozens of countries around the globe, including Canada and Mexico.

Row 44 equipment for Ku-band Internet access
Row 44 equipment is consisted out of a satellite antenna, a Ku-band receiver and Wi-Fi/Ethernet routers

Row 44 is providing Internet access in the same way as now defunct Connexion by Boeing, and the company finally managed to crack the tough FCC shell. Judging by our recent coverage of all the efforts that airline companies and connectivity industry are making, it looks like all is getting set to have internet onboard? and not just the Internet.

Row 44 offers live TV access, and even in-flight mobile phone calls, and SMS text messaging. While phone calls and SMS will not be allowed in US airspace, the rest of the world will have to start enduring passengers that will speak loudly on their cellphones? of course, that’s how the theory goes.

In the real world, we checked numerous times that it is almost impossible to hear a two passengers speaking even if they’re one row ahead or behind – if we’re thinking about wide-body planes. In a narrow-body plane such as Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 or 757, you might have an interesting time listening to people discussing the weather with their better/lesser looking counterparts, or even get a scoop or two from the competition.