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Southwest Airlines will be enhancing its WiFi In 2017! In what could be some of the most welcome news all year, Southwest Airlines announced yesterday that it would be enhancing its WiFi in 2017, and again in 2018. It also said that their all Boeing 737 fleet of more than 700 airplanes will be WiFi equipped by the end of 2017 – coinciding with the retirement of the non-WiFi equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft.According to the press release:
“In mid-2017, Customers will be able to browse the Internet at increased speeds as a result of an expected bandwidth increase of at least three times more than what they currently experience, with an additional expected bandwidth increase in mid-2018. Connectivity speeds are expected to increase, and Southwest plans to develop relationships with content providers to bring even more exclusive content to its Customers while on flights.”
Southwest says that it will be able to offer enhanced services as a result of new connectivity agreements:
Southwest entered into “connectivity agreements with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE). The agreement with Panasonic provides for their Global Communications Services, which include WiFi and live television, to be offered on a portion of the carrier’s fleet, with the first Panasonic equipped aircraft scheduled to enter service in late 2017. The agreement with GEE extends the carrier’s use of the company’s Airconnect connectivity system and services. Both of the agreements support Southwest’s focus on yielding greater WiFi bandwidth available to Customers on WiFi-equipped aircraft.”
This is huge for travelers using WiFi on board Southwest flights. While the free live TV has always seemed to work well, the WiFi is often sluggish to the point of where it is unusable. Hopefully Southwest keeps its WiFi operating from “gate-to-gate” rather than just being available over 10,000 feet. One other question will be pricing – will Southwest keep its $8 per device per day for WiFi connectivity across all WiFi-equipped planes, or will enhanced WiFi come with an enhanced pricing structure?
What do you think about Southwest enhancing its WiFi?