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AirCell plans to charge no more than $10 per day for its WiFi service
AirCell is shopping around for potential customers of its in-flight WiFi service

WiFi will soon again be taking to American skies. Boeing had offered its Connexion WiFi service in the past, but customers just didn't warm up to its pricing ($10 for one hour of access, $15 for two hours and $27 unlimited access). Boeing announced in August that it would discontinue the service and began offering customers free WiFi access from October 2 until Connexion was finally shut down on December 31. 

It looks as though air travelers may once again have the option to use WiFi aboard American airliners thanks to renewed interest from airlines and communications providers. AirCell spent $31 billion USD in 2006 for a portion of the radio spectrum for cell phone and Internet use.

AirCell also notes that the equipment necessary for outfitting an existing airliner will only add 100 pounds and can be installed overnight by airline crews. The downside, however, is that equipment costs are likely to be around $100,000 USD per plane.

Luckily for air passengers who choose to use AirCell's service, connection speeds and WiFi performance will be similar to existing ground-based systems and discounts will be offered to customers of T-Mobile, iPass and Boingo services. AirCell is also trying to avoid the pricing problems that Boeing ran into with its Connexion service -- it will charge no more than $10 per day to passengers for unlimited service.

AirCell's WiFi service will include Internet, email, VPN, SMS and IM access. The service will be available coast to coast and will offer DSL-like speeds and AirCell will provide email receipts for business expense usage.

While WiFi may be a viable option to air passengers in the near future, don't bet on using cell phones in the air anytime soon. Complaints from air passengers along with FCC regulations have so far kept that idea at bay. And for those of you thinking to use AirCell's WiFi connection to make VoIP calls while in the air, guess again. The company says it will block VoIP services such as Skype through WiFi connections.

Boeing recently nixed its idea to provide wireless networking for its 787 Dreamliner. The wireless networking equipment that it planned to use would have added 200 pounds to the weight of the aircraft. The company instead decided to use wired networking which saves roughly 150 pounds. The company was also worried about regulatory issues when using wireless technology in certain countries.

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By Moishe on 4/4/2007 1:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if it would be fast enough for playing something like BF2 online? Playing hours of your favorite game online while flying could really make the time pass quickly. The elbow room might end up being the main problem though.

RE: gaming
By crazzyeddie on 4/4/2007 1:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the bandwidth will be fine but I think latency will be your issue, as well as connection stability.

In other words, don't count on it.

RE: gaming
By Spivonious on 4/4/2007 2:32:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I agree. 30,000 feet makes for a long way for those radio waves to travel before they hit the tower on the ground. And 500mph makes it so you're hitting a different tower every second.

RE: gaming
By masher2 (blog) on 4/4/2007 3:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
> "30,000 feet makes for a long way for those radio waves to travel before they hit the tower on the ground..."

That would add about 0.03 milliseconds of latency. The real latency comes from tower switching and the radios themselves, not from actual speed-of-light transit times for the radio waves.

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