Inflight Internet provider Row 44 raises $37 million for international expansion
Row 44 Inc., which provides broadband Internet connection for airline passengers, will announce Wednesday that it has raised $37 million from investors, enabling the company to offer the service on international flights.
With the funds, Row 44 plans to expand its coverage area to other regions of the world by leasing more satellite transponders. The company, whose only customer is Southwest Airlines, hopes to persuade international carriers to outfit their planes with Row 44 equipment that gives passengers Wi-Fi connection while flying.
The Westlake Village firm, named after the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, uses a network of telecommunications satellites belonging to Hughes Network Systems. By tapping into Hughes' network, Row 44 has the potential capability to provide worldwide Internet access.Row 44 says it has a leg up on some of its rivals, whose service is available only over areas where there are ground-based antennas and cannot provide coverage for flights across an ocean.
Among airlines, demand is surging for Wi-Fi connection. Nearly all of the major U.S. carriers now have the service.
In January, Row 44 landed a contract with Dallas-based Southwest to provide Wi-Fi on the airline’s fleet of more than 540 planes. Row 44 is slated to have the entire fleet wired by 2013.
The funding will help with "our aggressive network build-out, enabling us to support airline customers across the globe,” Row 44 Chief Executive John Guidon said in a statement.
Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times