In-flight wi-fi rolled out across the US

The metal winged beasts of the sky may be quicker than their terra firma counterparts, but planes suffer one distinct disadvantage compared to trains and automobiles. Several hours sealed in a pressurised metal tube six miles up has long equated to zero communication - no phone, no Blackberry, no wi-fi, no laptop.

That's all changing - in the US at least - with the introduction of Gogo inflight internet. Already operating on three major routes operated by American Airlines, Gogo allows users to connect to a ground-based wi-fi network once the plane ascends to over 10,000 ft.

The cost is $9.95 for flights under three hours and $12.95 for longer flights, although the service is currently restricted to US airspace. For those who would rather read the well-thumbed in-flight propaganda than cough up, the likes of The Wall Street Journal and Frommer’s online travel guides are available free of charge. Gogo is due to launch on several other major airlines, including all 330 of Delta's mainline aircraft by Summer 2009, but again the service will be restricted to internal US flights.

Reading through Gogo's FAQ, it seems they're already expecting to run into problems similar to those experienced by National Express' wi-fi service, namely significant variations in service availability brought about by demand. Gogo make it clear that certain types of usage will be throttled to ensure nobody eats up all the bandwidth; file sharing, multi-player gaming, streaming audio/video, and VoIP will be given low priority and may not work consistently or at all. Boo.


1 comment

  • lisleman
    I worked at Verizon Airfone for a number of years (many biz trips to the UK from it) so these inflight internet service ideas are of interest to me. Anytime you make the internet access mobile you introduce more possible obstacles. I read your National Express post and wonder if it depends on the 3G service which is shared and could be spotty. Do you know if the train has a satellite antenna on it? In the gogo (aircell) case you have both sharing within the plane and then sharing between the planes. I think as the service gets more popular passengers and planes the bandwidth will be shared even more. Some email, IM, texting presents little bandwidth demand but video, games, music that's a different story. Oh one more thing - being in Europe did you try the Connixion service when Lufthansa had it? check out my blog and click on the airline tag for more. cheers

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