Southwest Airlines (Dallas), in conjunction with Row 44, is taking the next step in wireless inflight entertainment with a preview of live TV on five of the carrier’s aircraft, with plans to expand to 20 aircraft by mid-July. Customers on these select planes will now have the option to purchase live TV consisting of seven sports and news channels, and view on their personal devices.
Flight Attendants will notify the Southwest Customers who are onboard a TV-enabled WiFi aircraft. Those interested in using the TV service during this preview period will have the opportunity to log on to the service through the WiFi portal via their personal WiFi-enabled device (tablets, laptops, WiFi-enabled smart phones, etc). Live TV is offered as a separate charge from WiFi, so Customers do not have to purchase WiFi to purchase live TV. The airline will evaluate different price points from $3 to $8 throughout the trial period, with instructions on how to access live TV available via a link on the Southwest Airlines WiFi portal.
Southwest Airlines will offer seven live TV channels on these five aircraft so that Customers can stay abreast of the latest news or sports scores while flying at 35,000 feet:
- NBC Sports
- MLB live games from MLB.com
- NFL Network
- Fox News
- Fox Business News
The Row 44 system not only supports this new feature, but it was created with live TV in mind. Customers who are watching TV are accessing a separate portion of the bandwidth specifically dedicated for that use. Both live TV and WiFi usage will be monitored to determine if they perform together seamlessly, and if successful, live TV will be available to all WiFi-enabled planes by the end of the year.
Southwest Airlines maintains the world’s largest satellite-based WiFi fleet with more than 250 connected aircraft and plans to equip the entirety of their Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s (70 percent of its total fleet) by mid-2013. Row 44 offers Southwest Airlines the ability to be flexible as the airline’s needs evolve, and the satellite-based technology ensures that Customers’ access to WiFi and live TV will be uninterrupted during near-International flights over water.
Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Note the Row 44 embedded device on the top of this aircraft – a quick visual way to denote WiFi-equipped WN aircraft.