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In-Flight VOIP Coming Soon 110

Posted by Zonk
from the i-am-talking-to-you-from-the-skies dept.
hdtv writes "U.S. airline customers are likely to be thrilled with an opportunity to sit next to someone constantly chatting on the phone. Information Week magazine is reporting that government auction is opening a way for telecoms to introduce voice-over-IP links on in-flight communication systems." From the article: "Airfone already offers phone service on many flights, but its high cost has limited its use. JetBlue has declined to say what its LiveTV LCC unit would do with a winning frequency. Although many frequent flyers and airline attendants favor a ban on the phone chatter, Connexion by Boeing, whose Internet service is already offered on nearly 200 international flights a day, notes that there have been no complaints of in-cabin incidents about the technology. The Connexion service is regularly used by passengers to make VoIP calls. "
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In-Flight VOIP Coming Soon

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  • Really?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by datafr0g (831498) * <datafrog&gmail,com> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:33AM (#15329021) Homepage
    Connexion by Boeing, whose Internet service is already offered on nearly 200 international flights a day, notes that there have been no complaints of in-cabin incidents about the technology. The Connexion service is regularly used by passengers to make VoIP calls.

    Really??
    I tried the wireless Boeing Connexion service on a flight from Singapore to Australia late last year. Ping times at best were around 2000ms and often I lost connection completely - needless to say - no way would VoIP work with those conditions.

    Has anyone had any luck with this service and if so, where abouts or is this just marketing hype?
  • Link spam! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:37AM (#15329030)
    Nice link spam, user "hdtv" pointing to a commercial website, wahoo!
  • by geirhe (587392) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:57AM (#15329071)
    I work for Telio, which is an european VOIP operator. I may be biased. Caveat emptor.

    Our customers have been able to do voip calls using our softphone on intercontinental flights for a year or so, given a decent IP service on the plane. I have even been in a teleconference with one of our employees who was somewhere above the atlantic ocean.

    Downside: Latency. These calls have to go via satellites, which means a typical delay of several hundred milliseconds.

  • Re:danger? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <<robert> <at> <chromablue.net>> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:04AM (#15329085)
    They don't let you use mobile phones in hospital because of the danger to heart machines

    While this may have been an issue with older medical equipment and first- and second-generation mobile phones, it's certainly not the reasoning nowadays. People are just more likely to pay attention to "may interfere with equipment" than "show some damn courtesy to the people who are around you". Go to the hospital cafeteria, or the lounge in the ward - no-one will complain about your phone usage there.

  • Re:danger? (Score:5, Informative)

    by terrymark (768454) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:08AM (#15329095)
    I have been personally involved in wifi certifications in aircraft. I have never seen any interference with navigation systems. I attribute this to the low rf levels of wifi. Not so with cell phones, their much higher transmit levels can cause all kinds of havoc with communication/navigation. I have seen cell phone use in the cockpit (of corporate jets) cause the cockpit audio to go nuts. The upcoming certification of cell phones in the air all center around "picocells", which force the cell phones to transmit at lower power by associating with the on-board picocell and not with on-the-ground cell towers. I am doubtful that picocells will actually get certified, as it all hinges around sucessfully keeping the cell phone's power at a minimum, which may be very difficult in practice.
  • Re:Really?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by terrymark (768454) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:14AM (#15329105)
    I have been involved with data terminal installations in corporate aircraft, using the 64K service offered by Inmarsat. Ping times are typically 850-1000ms, which is just over the physical limit imposed by geo satellites. Not really sure why you were seing such high latency with Connexion. The new service being auctioned now by the FCC will be a ground-based system, so latency will be much lower.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:38AM (#15329141) Homepage Journal

    Mythbusters [discovery.com] actually tackled this one not too long ago (episode 49). If I recall correctly, the final verdict was "Plausable." On most modern jets, the electronics and navigation equipment are shielded, so cell phones and electronics won't interfere. They showed that by taking a device that simulated cell phone frequencies and cranked it up on a private jet on the ground, and the avionics didn't even blink.

    But when the wiring wasn't shielded, some of the devices did move the needles, which could cause an issue on some older (or presumably cheaper) airplanes. Also, since you never really know what frequencies devices may start using tomorrow or what kind of output they'll have, the airlines probably decided to ban all electronics just in case.

    Frankly, I don't blame them. I'd rather them err on the side of their planes not falling out of the sky.

    However, if they use their own equipment (or, in the case of wi-fi, equipment whose frequencies are known) that is well-tested and verified not to interfere with the avionics, I don't see any reason for them not to install it and use it. Will they charge for it? Of course! They have to recoup the cost of testing and installation, plus some of that equipment is specially designed to be used in the air, not just your cheap Linksys router from Newegg.com. And yes, of course, they want to make some money off of it too. Blame relatively cheap air fares or chalk it up to greed, but I don't see anything wrong with it. If you don't want to pay for it, just don't use it.

    Oh, by the way, I wouldn't try to get around this rule if I were you. If I recall correctly, doing so is a felony offense.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @11:21AM (#15329748)
    If I pull my 3 month old phone out of my pocket here and go to the web, it makes the speakers 3 feet from me buzz (and yes, I know why, don't need to explain it to me).

    TDMA (GSM) phones put out a lost of electromagnetic hash. If the tower tells the phone to use a high power setting and the phone obliges, it could easily mess up equipment that measures small currents (like an EKG).

    And that's with a modern phone. This won't go away or even get better until GSM (and other TDMA techs) go by the wayside. Which doesn't appear like it will be soon.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:04PM (#15330826) Journal
    There is a HUGE difference between second class, first class and private rooms. I am not talking your normal commuter train here but international trains.

    They got "regular" seats for cheap tickets where you spend the entire journey in a seat maybe a bit larger then the one in a normal train. And then you got your cabin train. Watch a movie like Orient Express or Silver Streak to get the idea.

    If they got private rooms in airliners today I am flying the wrong airlines.

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