Carlsbad satellite Internet firm Viasat has expanded its deal to provide in-flight Wi-Fi to Delta Airlines —adding 300 more aircraft that will primarily fly international routes.
The agreement now covers more than 1,000 commercial jets, some 700 serving North America and the additional wide-body planes for global flights.
In February, Delta began offering free Wi-Fi in partnership with T-Mobile and Viasat on domestic routes. The goal is to have Delta's entire domestic fleet enabled for free Wi-Fi by yearend.
Now Delta will install Viasat's antennas and other satellite Wi-Fi equipment on wide-body aircraft — including Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s and A350s. Initially, Wi-Fi will be offered for a fee on international routes where planes have been retrofitted. But by the end of next year, Delta plans to offer Wi-Fi free of charge on international flights — similar to its domestic offering for SkyMiles customers.
In a statement on its website, Delta said "as upgrades begin on these fleets this year, customers traveling internationally on select flights can purchase Wi-Fi with the same fast speeds they would experience flying domestically — with the new free Wi-Fi experience planned to launch on these upgraded aircraft in 2024."
Viasat's in-flight connectivity system has been installed in nearly 2,000 commercial jets mostly in North America but also in other regions. Customers include JetBlue, United Airlines, American Airlines and Virgin America. Viasat recently signed up Southwest Airlines for up to 350 new planes coming into its fleet.
In total, the company serves 18 airlines averaging over 200,000 flights per month.
This year, Viasat is launching two of three next-generation satellites. Called ViaSat-3, each has 1 terabit of bandwidth. The first is scheduled to launch in April and provide coverage over the Americas. The second will launch six months later and cover Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The launch date for the third satellite, covering Asia-Pacific, hasn't been pinned down.
Viasat is facing increased competition from SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation in the in-flight Wi-Fi market. Hawaiian Airlines has begun working with Starlink, and JSX, a public charter operator, plans to install Starlink on its jets flying to 22 cities.
Viasat's shares ended trading Wednesday down nearly 5 percent at $35.15 on the Nasdaq Exchange.
This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.
©2023 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.