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Virgin America Partners With ViaSat To Offer Faster, Higher Quality WiFi In The Sky

July 7, 2015

Virgin America the first and still only U.S. airline to offer WiFi on every aircraft in its fleet, announces a new technology partnership with ViaSat Inc. that will bring significantly faster WiFi connectivity to the airline's 10 new A320 aircraft deliveries, beginning in September of this year.  Through this latest connectivity partnership, Virgin America will tap the power and economics of ViaSat-1, the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world offering 140 gigabits-per-second, to deliver the fastest WiFi connectivity service for high-quality video streaming.

ViaSat's technology will deliver internet speeds that are typically 8 to 10 times faster than any other in-flight WiFi system – allowing travelers to experience internet speeds similar to what they have at home, with the freedom to watch, stream video and shop directly on any connected device when in-flight. With this new technology, Virgin America will become the first commercial airline to offer an in-flight WiFi service that can operate in both Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks on the same aircraft. By deploying ViaSat's new hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna Virgin America can keep travelers connected virtually anywhere they fly, ensuring guests always have the best available connection in any given location.  ViaSat's new hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna will enable in-flight WiFi connectivity on flights serving the airline's new Hawaiian destinations as of 2016.

"The idea behind our in-flight entertainment and connectivity offerings has always been to offer travelers more content, more interactivity and more of the choices they have access to on the ground," said Ken Bieler, Director of Product Design and Innovation at Virgin America. "Since 2009, our guests have come to rely on and expect WiFi access on every flight, and we've continued to improve our WiFi product offering over the years.  Bringing ViaSat's satellite-based WiFi product to our new delivery aircraft will again allow us to make an industry-leading investment in our product.  We are excited about this new technology and the possibility it opens up for WiFi coverage on our new Hawaii flights and for travelers who wish to stream video in-flight."

Virgin America will begin installation of ViaSat's systems immediately – with the first Ka-band antenna equipped aircraft to take flight in the continental U.S. in September 2015.  Aircraft scheduled for Hawaii flights will be outfitted with ViaSat's hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna in early 2016.  During the beta period rollout of the ViaSat product, Virgin America will offer free WiFi access on its first ViaSat equipped aircraft.  The airline will introduce pricing for the service in 2016.

"Our competitive advantage is rooted in the unique bandwidth economics of ViaSat-1 and the forthcoming ViaSat-2 satellite networks. We can empower airlines to engage all of their guests in an in-flight, online experience just like they'd get on the ground - including streaming high quality video," said Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Mobility Business, ViaSat. "Virgin America is a brand that shares our love of innovation and strives to bring the best service possible to the traveler.  By leveraging our technology, Virgin America can maximize passenger engagement and increase customer loyalty."