United Airlines and Verizon Airfone Certified for Passenger Wi-Fi in the Sky

June 06, 2005
(from UAL's press release site)
Companies lead North America as first to receive this type of Federal Aviation Administration approval

Date onboard Wi-Fi access will be available to customers will be determined in the coming months 

Chicago, June 6, 2005 United and Verizon Airfone have just become the first companies to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to install the necessary cabin equipment to enable passenger and crew use of wireless technology (Wi-Fi) devices on board a U.S. domestic commercial aircraft while inflight.

"Our research shows that connecting to the Internet is customers' most preferred form of communication to the ground, and this certification is a crucial step to bring this inflight wireless access to our customers," said Dennis Cary, United's senior vice president-Marketing.   "We are thrilled by this accomplishment and proud to lead the industry in North America with Verizon Airfone in this endeavor."  

The approval was granted after the two companies successfully demonstrated that the usage of 802.11 b/g wireless technology within the cabin does not affect the aircraft's operation.  Most laptop computers sold today are equipped with the wireless 802.11 b/g standard.

The certification is a welcome business development for both companies, as they have worked in conjunction for more than a year, including months of preparation and testing for safety and functionality, to obtain FAA approval for this service.  The approval currently applies to the cabin of United's B757-200 aircraft, as it was used to test the technology, and is part of a larger strategy to enable high-speed wireless Internet access on board all United aircraft.

"Our wireless broadband system will require only the addition of an avionics box, a wireless access point and a directional antenna, making it the faster and more affordable choice for United and its passengers," said Bill Pallone, president, Verizon Airfone.

The date that customers may begin using Wi-Fi devices on United ultimately will be determined by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) scheduled "Air-to-Ground" spectrum auction to be held in the coming months, where service rights and range of frequencies will be awarded to one or more providers for onboard passenger access to the Internet.  Once a service provider is selected by the FCC, United is positioned to act quickly to bring this service to customers.

Verizon Airfone currently provides voice services on United's U.S. domestic flights and JetConnectSM Messaging services on United's p.s. flights.  Airfone handsets will remain on board across United's fleet for customer use.  At this point, JetConnect Messaging services will remain on United's p.s. flights.

About United

United Airlines (OTCBB: UALAQ.OB) is the world's second largest airline, operating more than 3,400 flights a day on United, United Express and Ted to more than 200 U.S. domestic and international destinations from its hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C.  With key global air rights in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Latin America, United is the largest international carrier based in the United States.*  United is also a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides connections for our customers to nearly 800 destinations in 139 countries worldwide.  United's 60,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world.  News releases and other information about United can be found at the company's Web site at united.com.

*Measured by revenue passenger miles as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation for 12 months ending September 2004, the most recent comparison data available.

About Verizon Airfone

Verizon Airfone, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, has been leading the inflight communications industry for 20 years. Serving both the commercial airline and general aviation markets, Verizon Airfone was the first to provide passengers with wireless roaming, email, instant messaging, text messaging and voice services. Airfone Service for Verizon Wireless which lets Verizon Wireless subscribers route their cellular calls directly to the Airfone handset and bill Airfone charges to their Verizon Wireless account.

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