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JetBlue says if feedback is good on free in-flight Internet service it will roll the service out to whole fleet

Any technophile that travels by air for long flights has wished web access was available for work and play. Slowly airlines are beginning to come around to the notion of providing wireless Internet service on commercial flights.

In June of 2006, DailyTech reported that JetBlue and AirCell both won bidding for wireless frequency to provide in-flight Internet services. Later the same month DailyTech reported that Boeing was looking to sell or close its in-flight Internet service.

In July of this year, Qantas announced it would offer in-flight Internet service to its passengers flying on its Airbus A380 aircraft. The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that budget airline JetBlue is set to begin testing free in-flight WiFi service for passengers on one of its specially equipped Airbus A320 aircraft. The special A320 is set to take flight on Tuesday and JetBlue says it has been working for months with Yahoo Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd on the service.

JetBlue says that the test aircraft, dubbed "BetaBlue", will offer free WiFi access to laptops and certain Blackberry smartphones. In the beginning, only the newer Blackberry 8820 and 8320 Curve devices will work with the service. The in-flight service will provide Internet access, chat access, and email access in-flight. JetBlue says if feedback from passengers on “BetaBlue” is positive it will roll the free WiFi service out to other planes in its fleet.

Nate Quigley, chief executive of JetBlue’s LiveTV unit told the Wall Street Journal, “[WiFi service] can support everybody on the aircraft” when asked if the service would be able to support large numbers of users concurrently.

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By RyanM on 12/7/2007 2:01:28 PM , Rating: 3
How do they plan on providing access only to "certain Blackberry" phones? What's to stop someone with an iPhone from hopping on? Where do eeePC's fit into this?

The only method I could imagine working is some kind of MAC address filtering that blocks whole chunks of addresses based on which OEMs end up with the chips.

RE: hrm...
By FITCamaro on 12/7/2007 2:51:45 PM , Rating: 2
Likely anything that supports wifi will work. I think they meant more along the lines that the vast majority of phones don't. I don't know though. Maybe they're blocking certain kinds of devices somehow.

RE: hrm...
By othercents on 12/7/2007 4:06:05 PM , Rating: 2
will offer free WiFi access to laptops and certain Blackberry smartphones

That will include the eee PC and probably any device with WiFi. However Blackberry devices, other than the two phones mentioned, that want to connect to the blackberry service will be unable too. Probably because of the software difference in the phones.

The free service has to be paid somewhere which is where most free WiFi fails. It is an added convenience to the people flying, but might not justify the service cost. I wouldn't mind WiFi access when I'm on those 3+ hour flights, but otherwise I doubt I would even pack a computer for anything shorter.


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