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In-flight WiFi is coming to the friendly skies

We live in a connected world -- some may say that we all are too connected when it comes to electronic devices. American Airlines is looking to satisfy our cravings for "all access anywhere" with in-flight WiFi beginning this summer.

Southwest is partnering with Row 44 to provide high-speed satellite Internet access. The airline will equip four of its aircraft with the service starting in summer 2008.

"Southwest Airlines is pleased to announce its partnership with Row 44, and we intend to deliver the highest bandwidth available to commercial airlines in the United States," said Southwest Senior VP of marketing Dave Ridley. "Southwest's selection of satellite technology will offer a more robust experience for more Customers per aircraft versus other solutions available in the marketplace. Southwest is looking for the best solution for our Customers not only for Internet e-mail access, but for additional in-flight entertainment as well."

American Airlines will first roll the service out with its Boeing 767-200 airliners. These large aircraft typically make long, cross-country flights. After the initial test phase with the 767s, American Airlines will slowly add WiFi to its entire fleet.

The costs for in-flight WiFi are expected to range from $10 for short flight and up to $12.95 for longer, cross-country flights.

The high-speed Internet will be provided by AirCell. According to AirCell, the cost of providing Internet connectivity to a single aircraft is $100,000 USD and adds roughly 100 pounds to the airframe. The equipment can be installed overnight by airline crews.

Southwest and American Airlines are not alone in their testing, however. JetBlue is trialing in-flight WiFi with a single Airbus A320 aircraft dubbed "BetaBlue." JetBlue's service is also provided by AirCell, but it will not charge customers for connectivity.



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RE: I love the wireless "risk" in the sky
By BMFPitt on 1/23/2008 2:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
I work for the FAA. We, as an institution, are terrified of introducing anything new into a system. There only has to be a one in a trillion chance of something happening for it to be an issue (and from some perspectives, understandably so.)


RE: I love the wireless "risk" in the sky
By TomZ on 1/23/2008 2:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Knowledge can overcome fear. If FAA would study the problem, gather technical data, and make informed regulations, that would be a step in the right direction.

Instead, since they seem to have done very little in terms of studies AFAIK, and instead they make rules based on this type of "one in a trillion" mentality.

And some people wonder why government agencies are stereotyped as being inefficient, incompetent, or entirely disfunctional.


RE: I love the wireless "risk" in the sky
By Cygni on 1/23/2008 3:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
It has nothing to do with the FAA being inefficient, or a government body. If the FAA was a private trade group, guess what? They STILL wouldnt let you use your cellphone on the flight.

Its simple. There are literally thousands of approved avionics systems in passenger service today. More appear every day. Also, there are thousands of wireless devices in the world today. As with avionics, more appear every day.

Should the FAA test every single electronic device, with every single avionics system in flight... and update it every single time something new comes out, just to tell you 'Oh, you can use this brand cellphone on this plane, but not ANY other'... or should they just say 'Turn off your cellphones.'

Which one is more logical, and efficient, to you?


RE: I love the wireless "risk" in the sky
By TomZ on 1/23/2008 3:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
Read my other reply above:

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=10445...

There is no need to test individual devices. All devices on the market are already tested to comply with existing EFI/EMI rules.


By Cygni on 1/23/2008 4:56:59 PM , Rating: 2
A) You are wrong, many electronic devices are NOT EMI tested before they hit the market, and many are tested poorly.
http://www.dailytech.com/Wake+Up+America+Whos+Watc...

And

B) Who said that all electronic devices taken on the plane are even from the US? There are thousands of international flights per day... are you going to check to make sure that every single electronic device on that plane is FCC certified? Or are you going to simply say 'Shut em off.'

There is only ONE logical, simple, and effective way to deal with this... The current rule. Shut em off.


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