El Al Israel Airlines To Offer ViaSat in-air Broadband Service

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Updated March 7 at 9:47 a.m. EDT

PARIS — El Al Israel Airlines will outfit its Boeing 737 aircraft to provide in-flight satellite broadband using ViaSat’s Exede in the Air service enabled by Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat Ka-band satellite starting in 2015 under an agreement announced March 5.

Under the agreement, El Al will begin retrofitting its B-737 fleet to provide broadband to crews and passengers on flights between Tel Aviv, Israel, and multiple European airports. Efforts to obtain certification from each nation overflown during the flights will begin immediately, the companies said.

“Installation of Internet service on European routes will significantly improve the quality of service and flight experience for El Al customers,” El Al Chief Executive Elyezer Shkedy said in a statement.

El Al passengers will be offered several Internet service options, including one free service, to connect their laptops, tablets or smartphones to the Internet. Further details on the packages will be forthcoming as service entry approaches.

Paris-based Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat satellite covers almost all of Europe, the Middle East, parts of Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Atlantic. Eutelsat selected Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat as its technology partner, with ViaSat providing the consumer terminals for Ka-Sat’s terrestrial customers.

For the El Al contract, ViaSat said it would “manage a complete in-flight Internet service to the aircraft, including airborne terminals, antennas, radomes and air time,” the company said in a statement.

ViaSat advertises Exede in the Air as able to deliver 12 megabits per second of capacity to each passenger, a rate the company says is irrespective of the number of users on a given plane. This is more bandwidth than is currently delivered to Air Force One, the U.S. presidential plane, according to ViaSat.

 

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