Viasat checks in with Delta to boost in-air connectivity

US airline adds next-generation Ka-band satellite technology to mainline fleet to help modernise how passengers stay connected and enjoy content during travel

The airline industry may be in crisis mode right now, but for airlines such as Delta, offering an enhanced passenger experience is the key to future profitability. The company’s next step in this regard is to introduce Viasat next-generation Ka-band satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC).

Viasat and Delta’s relationship is designed to lay the groundwork towards a true full, fast and free in-flight internet experience, as well as future enhancements and personalisation on customer seatback screens.

Delta will upgrade its current IFC system to Viasat’s more advanced Ka-band satellite-powered technology to provide all customers with what are said to be enhanced and reliable in-flight internet capabilities – including faster, more consistent connections and an ability to stream all types of entertainment and popular over-the-top content – to any internet-ready device, gate-to-gate.

Delta’s aircraft will be fitted with Viasat’s latest Ka-band IFC system, and will be compatible with Viasat’s complete fleet of satellites, including its first-generation spacecraft and partner satellites, its second-generation spacecraft ViaSat-2, and the forthcoming ViaSat-3 class of satellites.

These are expected to offer global coverage with what is claimed to be nearly eight times more capacity than Viasat’s current fleet – which means even more enhanced connectivity and streaming services to keep up with expected increases in demand.

The communications system will be rolled out on more than 300 mainline narrowbody aircraft, including both new delivery and retrofits on A321ceo, 737-900ER and select 757-200 planes. Deployment will begin from summer 2021, with Delta having the option to add further fleets.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to delight our customers and offer an unparalleled onboard experience,” said Delta chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch about the deal with Viasat. “In working with Viasat, we gain the tools needed to deepen customer interactions and bring us closer to delivering more personalised in-flight content as well as an ability to consistently provide free, fast, streaming Wi-Fi in the future.”

Rick Baldridge, president and CEO at Viasat, said: “Delta is committed to optimise the customer journey, and we’re committed to helping them build a foundation toward a better in-flight internet and entertainment experience. We have a proven in-flight connectivity solution that is high-quality, streaming-capable and can scale to meet Delta’s growing customer demand. We are proud to be part of their connected ecosystem.”

The deal with Delta comes just weeks after Viasat announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire RigNet, a developer of secure, intelligent networking systems and specialised applications. The move was made to further accelerate Viasat’s strategy to provide high-quality, ubiquitous, affordable broadband connectivity and communications to the hardest-to-reach locations around the globe.

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