The new system will debut in early 2024 and roll out across the regional jet fleet over a two-year period. Alaska Airlines is on track to provide consistent streaming-fast Wi-Fi across the entire fleet by 2026.
Intelsat’s state-of-the-art satellite Wi-Fi equipment will be the first commercial application of an electronically steered antenna that communicates with both low Earth orbit and geostationary satellites located 22,000 miles from Earth. With LEO at just 300 miles from the Earth’s surface, thousands of small satellites circling the planet ensure stronger connectivity with lower latency, or delay in telecommunications.
Being closer to Earth provides a benefit of a shorter delay time as data moves from the ground to satellites to aircraft and back. This unique combination of using both LEO and GEO satellites enables higher speeds and more coverage, particularly across remote areas in the state of Alaska.
“Bringing a streaming-fast satellite Wi-Fi solution to our regional jets is another key investment in modernizing our fleet, emphasizing innovation and taking care of our guests changing needs,” said Sangita Woerner, senior vice president of marketing and guest experience for Alaska Airlines. “With the growth in remote work, we know staying connected at 34,000 feet is more important than ever. Intelsat’s new system will give our guests the peace of mind that no matter whether it’s a short flight or longer journey, there will be reliable, affordable and convenient Wi-Fi. It’s just another way we show care in the air.”
Intelsat’s inflight connectivity and streaming entertainment system is already featured on over 150 aircraft in Alaska’s fleet, and this latest agreement represents the largest expansion of the IFC relationship between the two companies to date.
The companies have partnered since 2010 to deliver industry-leading inflight connectivity and entertainment across Alaska’s fleet of Embraer 175, Boeing 737NG and Airbus A320 family aircraft. They have a history of innovation together, having launched the first ever, free to everyone, inflight messaging service in 2017. The inflight connectivity equipment is being installed in the new 737-9s, with deliveries already underway and continuing through 2024.
Intelsat has invested $2 billion to build the world’s first global unified network to support the next generation of global mobility, including a new fleet of software-defined satellites to meet airline passenger demand for streaming-quality inflight connectivity.
“Alaska is committed to delivering a connected experience that gives their guests a high-speed internet service and high-quality content. I couldn’t be happier that they chose Intelsat as their partner,” said Dave Bijur, senior vice president of commercial in Intelsat’s commercial aviation division. “Our continuous launch of satellites over the next several years, starting with Intelsat 40e next year, puts us in a position to deliver reliability, redundancy and speed – all of which maximize guest satisfaction.”
The partnership between Alaska Airlines and Intelsat is a clear indication of the growing demand for inflight connectivity among airline passengers. With more people relying on their personal devices for entertainment, and work it is essential for airlines to provide a reliable and high-speed internet service_