AirCell Plans Nationwide Wi-Fi Network

 - November 16, 2006, 10:41 AM

AirCell is moving forward with plans for a nationwide network of about 200 special ground stations to support in-flight broadband services. The Louisville, Colo. company is paying $31.319 million for a frequency-spectrum license after beating out Verizon Airfone and others in an FCC auction that concluded on June 5. AirCell CEO Jack Blumenstein told AIN that the company expects to launch airborne Wi-Fi services a year after receiving the license, which could happen as early as next month. AirCell plans to double its workforce to about 100 employees as it builds the infrastructure to support the planned service, which will be available over the continental U.S. to airline and business aircraft passengers, offering download connection speeds of about three megabytes per second. The FCC license is for a 3-MHz segment in the 800-MHz band spectrum Verizon Airfone currently uses for in-flight calling services. Verizon must vacate the spectrum within two years.