Satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi soon to come on Spirit Airlines

In the battle of the super-budget airlines, low fares can mean costly checked baggage, stiff seating and generally cruddy customer service. But one thing’s almost certain: if you’re paying less than $50 for a ticket, don’t expect Wi-Fi on your flight. Well, maybe except on one carrier soon.

US-based Spirit has announced that it has partnered with satellite internet provider Thales to launch Wi-Fi service on all of its planes by summer 2019.

It will utilize Ka-band spectrum from Thales’s existing network to provide speedy throughput on 97 percent of its routes. Spirit will also be able to take advantage of a new satellite dedicated to Ka-band beaming, scheduled to launch in 2021. Specifics on customer pricing are vague with Spirit mentioning demand- and route-based pricing with an average base price of around $6.50.

Many US airlines rely on Gogo, which uses a mix of slower technologies such as air-to-ground and Ku-band satellite — it costs $7 for one hour’s use, though T-Mobile customers get a free hour just by entering their phone number. Mid-size budget carrier JetBlue relies on Ka-band satellites from Thales and Viasat for its free “Fly-Fi” service.

As mainstream carriers attempt to appeal to the penny-pinching crowds with lower fares and fewer amenities, will Spirit’s move put a counter against them? Perhaps, but other ultra-low-cost players may bite.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.