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Any news/updates about UA planes getting DirecTV like many of the CO planes?

Any news/updates about UA planes getting DirecTV like many of the CO planes?

Old Sep 24, 11, 10:22 am
  #1  
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Any news/updates about UA planes getting DirecTV like many of the CO planes?

Has anyone seen anything with all the upcoming changes about UA planes getting DirecTV like many of the CO planes?
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Old Sep 24, 11, 10:28 am
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I can not recall seeing anything specific, but my instincts tell me that there will NOT be a retrofit of the legacy UA aircraft. If anything, I think most of the airlines are going to move towards WIFI based in-flight entertainment.
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Old Sep 24, 11, 10:54 am
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Nothing announced and I agree that the trend towards wifi is growing. The question is how they'll get there. The current plan for wide-spread wifi deployment piggybacks on the LiveTV platform hardware. They can certainly just do half the kit and only put in wifi but I'm not sure how likely that is. All comes down to who is paying and how much, I suppose.
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Old Sep 24, 11, 11:04 am
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I heard they were looking at some type of Ka band solution (for international flights) for the UA birds. I forget where I read that but it would include both TV and internet.

Nevertheless, it will be awhile before that happens -- I feel like cell towers will have the range of cruising altitudes before we get wifi/tv on those birds.
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Old Sep 24, 11, 11:16 am
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There was an announcement about satellite-based inflight internet, but the service can not be tested/approved/implemented until the satellite is launched later this year.

As for DirecTV, don't forget that CO pays very little - if anything - to have the system installed. Given the anticipated move towards streaming entertainment, I really do not think DirecTV will be willing to install systems across the legacy UA fleet as they may not be able to recoup the cost.
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Old Sep 24, 11, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by edcho View Post
I heard they were looking at some type of Ka band solution (for international flights) for the UA birds. I forget where I read that but it would include both TV and internet.
This is most likely the LiveTV solution. PMCO was on board with LiveTV since it was announced but the original service was scrapped about a year ago because LiveTV couldn't make it work. The main caveat for the Ka solution right now is that it needs satellite coverage over the areas where the planes are flying in order to actually provide service. Right now there isn't global coverage (even the USA isn't fully covered) so it'll be a while until service shows up on many international flights.
Originally Posted by MBM3 View Post
There was an announcement about satellite-based inflight internet, but the service can not be tested/approved/implemented until the satellite is launched later this year.
"Later this year" might be a stretch at this point. Things haven't been going so great with the bird that they've been trying to get up in the air or with the launch company. Since the initial announcement of the project the implementation timeline was early to mid 2012 so a while yet before anything will be operating with that service.
Originally Posted by MBM3 View Post
Given the anticipated move towards streaming entertainment, I really do not think DirecTV will be willing to install systems across the legacy UA fleet as they may not be able to recoup the cost.
Agreed, though perhaps the numbers for the combined system will be favorable.
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Old Sep 25, 11, 3:42 pm
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For this non technophile, is there a summary of why some airlines, now UACO, can't seem to get wifi up? And is it particularly with certain satellite systems? For example, Southwest has humiliated itself with the announcement that "It's finally here!" only to go quiet and have its apologists, especially on that FlyerTalk board, work to pick up the pieces, time after time, for years now. Thank you.
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Old Sep 25, 11, 3:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Firewind View Post
For this non technophile, is there a summary of why some airlines, now UACO, can't seem to get wifi up? And is it particularly with certain satellite systems? For example, Southwest has humiliated itself with the announcement that "It's finally here!" only to go quiet and have its apologists, especially on that FlyerTalk board, work to pick up the pieces, time after time, for years now. Thank you.
I don't think UACO ever really actively pursued Wifi. There are indications and news that they were playing around with the technology (even one UA plane has Wifi as a test bed minus PS service). CO signed a letter of intent awhile back but I think the satellite has had issues getting launched so there hasn't been much progress on that front.
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Old Sep 25, 11, 3:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Firewind View Post
For this non technophile, is there a summary of why some airlines, now UACO, can't seem to get wifi up?
PMCO made a deal with LiveTV a few years back to implement the LiveTV internet system known as "Kiteline" on the aircraft that had the LiveTV DirecTV service. Kiteline was a terrestrial system based on a similar technology to gogo and using the spectrum that was previously allotted to the AirFone systems. Kiteline never got off the ground because LiveTV outsourced the construction of the transponder systems to another company that failed to deliver a working model. Eventually the company simply pulled the plug on the project. That was in April 2010.

In September 2010 LiveTV announced that they were going to move to a satellite-based system instead. This would be a next-gen system and it would be super fast and wonderful but it depends on getting a satellite into orbit so as to provide complete coverage over the USA. That launch has seen several delays for a variety of reasons, including being damaged in transit to a test facility, bumped because of higher-profile (i.e. higher paying) cargo and, most recently, because the launch facility has a rocket failure so everything is on hold until that gets figured out. That last one was just last month and I do not know the net result of that move.

At one point CO planned a proper trial comparing both the LiveTV and gogo services but the failure of the LiveTV killed that off. Then the merger talks heated up and both companies pretty much froze their efforts to do much of anything with respect to wifi (and several other things).

I cannot speak to the history with UA as I don't know it as well but I do know that the adoption numbers of the service were generally pretty low from the companies who installed it and that the RoI for having it on board was a pretty tough equation to make good on.

I do know that UA has gogo on the p.s. fleet (relatively low investment cost and relatively high uptake in theory on a "premium" business route), though even there the numbers weren't great. And they have the one Row44 plane flying around.
Originally Posted by edcho View Post
I think the satellite has had issues getting launched so there hasn't been much progress on that front.
While this is true the service was never supposed to be available prior to Q2/3 2012. So it isn't actually late. Yet.
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Old Sep 25, 11, 4:26 pm
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Thank you, and thank you also for putting it all together. Sooo... It seems to be difficult to distinguish between "technical", "managerial" and (inter-) "organizational" problems. But probably if the technical aspect were solidly resolved, there then would be the momentum to make it fly. Or maybe it's squabbling over something that could be really big?

Last edited by Firewind; Sep 25, 11 at 4:36 pm
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