Surfing the net while in the air….

by | Dec 11, 2007 | jahlberg

Finally, it looks like Internet connectivity has come around to the airlines. If you are like me, and do business travel throughout the year, one of the frustrating things about getting on the plane is loosing communications for duration of the flight. Having the ability to stay connected and do emails and such would be well worth the cost.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten on a plane while on a phone call and needing to send someone an email or urgently needing Internet connectivity, just to be told to shut everything down and then be radio silent for X hours.

Yes, I may be mildly (depending on who you ask) addicted to my PDA and addressing emails whenever and wherever I happen to be. I can kick the habit, but why bother if I do not need to while on a plane : )

The article below will give you some details on what is to come.

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In-flight Internet service starts next week
By Susan Stellin New York Times
12:19 PM CST, December 7, 2007

Passengers may soon hear a new in-flight announcement: “You can now log on.”Starting next week and over the next few months, several American airlines will begin testing Internet service on their planes.

On Tuesday, JetBlue Airways will begin offering a free e-mail and instant messaging service on one aircraft, while American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines plan to offer a broader Web experience in the coming months, probably at a cost of around $10 a flight.

“I think 2008 is the year when we will finally start to see in-flight Internet access become available, but I suspect the rollout domestically will take place in a very measured way,” said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst with Forrester Research.

The airlines’ goal is to turn their planes into the equivalent of a wireless hotspot once the aircraft reaches its cruising altitude. Virgin America even plans to link the technology to its seat-back entertainment system, enabling passengers who are not traveling with laptops or smartphones to send messages on a flight. The network can also potentially be used for communications within the plane, like food and drink orders — something Virgin America already does with its seat-back system.

While the technology could allow travelers to make phone calls over the Internet, most carriers say they have no plans to allow voice communications.

But if a test flight on Wednesday is any indication of the challenges airlines and their technology partners face in trying to offer connectivity at 35,000 feet and 500 miles an hour, travelers can initially expect an experience reminiscent of the days of dial-up access — slower and more prone to problems than a typical connection on the ground.

“Sometimes you just have to put things out there and see what happens when people try to use it,” said Nate Quigley, chief executive of LiveTV, a JetBlue subsidiary responsible for the airline’s Internet service as well as its in-flight entertainment system. “We’ll find the bugs and eventually get them worked out.”

LiveTV is one of several companies aiming to introduce in-flight Internet access in 2008.

A recent survey by Forrester Research that found that 26 percent of leisure travelers would pay $10 for Internet access on a two- to four-hour flight and 45 percent would pay that amount for a flight longer than four hours.

“I think that the airlines will see that the demand is there,” Harteveldt said, adding that besides sharing the revenue from these fees, airlines could potentially earn money from advertising on these services or use the cabin’s Wi-Fi network to enhance their operations.

John Ahlberg, CEO, Waident Technology Solutions

John Ahlberg
CEO, Waident

CIO in the corporate world and now for Waident clients. John injects order and technology into business process to keep employees productive, enterprises running, and data safe.

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