The 30th round of air-to-ground spectrum bidding has closed and it's given me ideas: LiveTV LLC, a subsidiary of JetBlue, is currently winning a 1 MHz license in the air-to-ground auction. (Acadia is the current winner of 3 MHz for $24.5m, but bidding will continue tomorrow and probably beyond that.)
JetBlue would like to use in-flight broadband for more than just offering passengers an Internet connection, much as Connexion by Boeing--not a bidder in this domestic auction--uses its satellite service to offer a few live broadcast channels on select airlines.
So why would LiveTV bid on a 1 MHz license, which might carry less than 1 Mbps in each direction? Here's one scenario. When a plane lands, on-board systems sync over Wi-Fi with airport equipment to transfer massive amounts of current content to an onboard cache. Even with JetBlue's quick turnaround time, hours of programming could be received.
While in flight, content could be continuously streamed for lower-bandwidth, smaller-format live programming, as well as cached for rewind/pause capability. This could combine the best of both worlds.
How many streams could you squeeze into 1 Mbps when you're not offering broadband (or perhaps offering a tiny slice for email and text messaging)? I'm not clear on what the overall quality would be, but it could be enough to be interesting.