Aircell says a Delta Air Lines DC-9 became the 1000th aircraft to be equipped with its Gogo Inflight Internet service, and now one-third of U.S. mainline aircraft are equipped with Aircell's Wi-Fi solution.
Delta, American, Alaska, Air Canada, AirTran, Frontier, United, US Airways and Virgin America are among Aircell's customers.
Clearly, Aircell, which has a cell-tower network covering the continental U.S., is the dominant provider of Wi-Fi to mainline aircraft (as opposed to regional jets) in North America.
Slowly, Wi-Fi will become ubiquitous.
Aircell says it will continue to bolster Gogo's client based in 2010 and will install the service on more jets. Currently 3,800 flights daily have GoGo Wi-Fi service, and that's up from 2,100 flights a year ago.
Waiting in the wings is satellite-based Row 44, which counts Southwest as its only U.S. customer.
However, Southwest, the largest U.S. domestic airline, has some 540 aircraft and Row 44 is slated to have the entire fleet Wi-Fi-enabled in 2013.
Aircell and Row 44 battled over the Alaska Air account, with the carrier running tests of both systems, and ultimately chose Aircell a few months ago.
Aircell says it installed Gogo service in numerous Alaska, Delta and American jets in August.
Row 44 seems perplexed about Alaska's choice of Aircell.
"They chose a few months back to switch to Aircell," says Row 44 spokesman Robbie Hyman, referring to Alaska. "Given the importance of their over-water routes, and the fact that Aircell cannot support those routes as fare as we know because their system requires constant contact with cell towers on the ground -- hard to come by over the ocean -- we do not know why Alaska chose this move."
Alaska spokesperson Bobbie Egan says: "Aircell has a proven track record of deploying affordable inflight Wi-Fi services to airline customers. Its lower-cost equipment, coupled with the ease and speed of installation and finally its system reliability, allow Alaska Airlines to rapidly deploy the service to our customers."
So Row 77, which says it is targeting airlines globally, is playing catch-up with Southwest as a big client in the U.S. market and also claims its business model allows for more differentiation for clients.
Row 44, Hyman says, enables clients to brand their own Wi-Fi service and customize their own content while with, Aircell, "American offers the same Gogo service as Delta."
Sounds good, but in the U.S. market, at least, the majority of carriers with Wi-Fi have opted for Aircell.