Southwest Airlines has announced a new set of connectivity agreements with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) aimed at enhancing its in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment.
The agreement with Panasonic provides for their Global Communications Services, which include Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi bandwidth available to customers on Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft, the airline said.
Southwest said the agreements with Panasonic and GEE align with next year's planned retirement of the carrier's non-Wi-Fi-equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft and the introduction of the new Boeing 737-8 (MAX). By the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines is targeting to operate a 100 percent Wi-Fi-equipped fleet of more than 700 aircraft.
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, Southwest said. 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.
Customers will continue to enjoy the current onboard entertainment offerings they experience with Southwest today, such as free live TV and $8 per device per day for Wi-Fi connectivity across all Wi-Fi-equipped planes.