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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By TomZ on 1/23/2008 2:31:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Instead of failing at testing everything, they just ban everything.

Your analogy falls apart, because even consumer gear is subject to RFI/EMI testing and is regulated in terms of the amount and characteristics that can be legally emitted. Therefore, these levels are known and can be (and probably are already) incorporated into functional requirements for airplane electronics.

Sure, that won't stop someone's "homemade" device they carry on that exceeds the legal limits, but that's not really the specific concern here.

Although on that note, again, airline electronics would have to be sufficiently sheilded from even rogue gear for security purposes. It's not hard to imagine the case where a bad guy brings on board some kind of electronic device specifically designed to emit RFI to intentionally interfere with on-board electronics, for the purpose of taking down a plane. Therefore, RFI/EMI hardening is also a security requirement.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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