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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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  • whenever I fly I always get told that I can't have wifi on on my laptop, nor can I use a mobile phone, and I think they even frown upon using gameboys on take-off. Isn't is danerous to have an internet connection on a plane? can it not interfere with the machinary? They don't let you use mobile phones in hospital because of the danger to heart machines; surely this is just as important; or is this just because I'm not american and you don't have the same concerns as us
    • The airlines must've found away around the interference, otherwise they're endangering their customers [wikipedia.org]..
    • Isn't is danerous to have an internet connection on a plane?

      no. [itworld.com]
    • Re:danger? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robertNO@SPAMchromablue.net> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:04AM (#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.

      • 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 d
    • Re:danger? (Score:5, Informative)

      by terrymark (768454) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:08AM (#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:danger? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by senatorpjt (709879)
        In that case, if terrorists want to crash a plane, why don't they just turn their phones on?

        • Because there's a pilot who can fly the plane without instruments if he has to. He doesn't want to though, because it makes it more likely something will go wrong. Especially if ALL the planes have malfunctioning instruments.
        • In that case, if terrorists want to crash a plane, why don't they just turn their phones on?

          Cell phone emission will affect two things: Communication and navigation, it won't affect the operation of the plane and the rest that is wired. While fairly important, the sky is pretty big and there's "air corridors" they travel in which means there's rarely any immidiate danger. Even if flying completely blind, particularly if air traffic control will redirect planes to avoid you. To literally crash it you would n
      • I have been personally involved in wifi certifications in aircraft. I have never seen any interference with navigation systems.

        Who says the system has to be WiFi? They could just put plugs on the back of every seat. It's not like people roam around aircraft much... at least not on the cattle-car flights I flew on in coach class.

      • Re:danger? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nsayer (86181)
        RFI is not the reason cell phones are banned on airplanes. It's nothing to do with the FAA. It's against FCC regulations because the cellphone up in the air is visible to way too many cell towers and thus causes excessive interference. A pico-cell in the plane, as you said, fixes all that by forcing the phones to work at extremely low power. But unless they put a pico cell in for every carrier, it's going to make enforcement a problem. How are the baliffs^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hstewards going to know whether someone
      • I can't speak to GSM (they're the competition), but power control in CDMA works very well, thank you. In fact, CDMA can't work without it.

        In early field testing of CDMA, I noticed that the transmit power from our CDMA mobile fell below the received power from the base station whenever we passed by it on the other side of the San Diego River, a distance of about 400 meters according to Google Earth. Both receive and transmit powers were in the low microwatt range. My standard joke in a customer demo was th

    • 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

      • Don't go around strutting Mythbusters as good proof of anything. It's good TV, and you can learn a lot from it, but as far as scientific conclusions go it's usually pretty bad.

        (One egregious example -- which is a pity because it's something that would actually be useful to know -- was when they were testing gas mileage of windows down vs. A/C. They "busted" the myth that a/c is more efficient then decreasing the aerodynamics of your car. But they did so by running the a/c at it's highest setting, causing wh
    • whenever I fly I always get told that I can't have wifi on on my laptop, nor can I use a mobile phone, and I think they even frown upon using gameboys on take-off.
      Gameboys don't emit any kind of wave dangerous for the plane. They just want you to be able to pay attention to the security routine.
      • They also don't want game boys flying around the cabin if something does go wrong during the two most dangerous phases of the flight. Thus the regulation that such things must be not only turned off, but stowed.
    • I know of someone who on various planes and with various airliners ran a Sony camcorder during takeoff AND during landing. The plane didn't crash. The pilot never announced any dangers. The plane didn't weave or bob or sideslip any of the runways. Nothing of significance came about. No flight attendants perused the aisles. We all know someone who gets on the phone as SOON as the plane lands, or someone who is texting or trying to talk or play a handheld game until the LAST minute. I don't really worry. I sa
  • Really?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by datafr0g (831498) * <datafrog.gmail@com> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:33AM (#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?
    • Australia isn't know for fast or reliable internet, unfortunately. I don't know about Singapore. :|
    • Worked much better that that for me - much like an average ground-based wifi connection. I was using ICQ and didn't notice much extra delay. That was probably somewhere over Asia also.
    • I'm not surprised, though they should have had better information about coverage - Australia is not covered by ground antennas and such (Connexion uses a combination of Ku-band antennas and satellite), and thus your service would have been going via satellite shortly after leaving Asia.
    • Re:Really?? (Score:3, Informative)

      by terrymark (768454)
      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.
      • ...using the 64K service offered by Inmarsat. Ping times are typically 850-1000ms, which is just over the physical limit imposed by geo satellites

        The round-trip delay due to the speed of light for the geosynchronous satellites used by Inmarsat is at most ~500ms. The extra 350-500ms is caused by Inmarsat processing delays.

        Not really sure why you were seing such high latency with Connexion.

        I'm guessing they were having a bad day, or there are places in the world they don't route well to. Measurements o

    • Re:Really?? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dean.collins (862044)
      well I can tell you for a fact that the connection times on lufthansa work great, we have no only run a voip call from their USA/Europe but also ran a video conference on our in house FMS based video conference server.

      I think there is even a screen shot of it on the http://www.unisona.com/ [unisona.com] website.

      Dean
      • Mod parent down for gratuitous plug of his company -- the link isn't to the screenshot, finding it is a pain in the ass, and it's tiny on the website. He just wants traffic.
        • Gratuitous plug maybe but it's relevant to the topic and factual.

          we've done it and we sell it already. Yoou dont like it then you dont need to buy our application :)
    • I wrote about my voip experience on Connexion a couple a weeks ago. The latency is horrible, the speed is marginal, and pretty much the service is only good for slow web-browsing and email. Fastest Wifi Hotspot ever [bryantchoung.com]
    • >>Has anyone had any luck with this service and if so, where abouts or is this just marketing hype?

      Yes, I have done this with Connexion by Boeing on flights from London to Singapore. I have used Skype while in flight on a few occasions. Sometimes there are delays of 2-3 seconds, like talking on CB radio. I did a tracert and saw that the traffic was going from the airplane to seattle and then to the rest of the net. So it bounces around in the ether via satellite before coming down. I believe tha
  • Link spam! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Nice link spam, user "hdtv" pointing to a commercial website, wahoo!
  • a special legal dispensation for beating motormouths into unconsciousness with phones as retribution for the irritation factor on a long haul.
    • Why would you get that just for being too stupid to buy a $.30 pair of earplugs when you know that your going to be confined in a small room with a bunch of people from the genreal public who will be talking more than you want to hear.

      Or for being so arrogant that you feel that everybody else should change their behavior to make you happy, when a $.30 pair of earplugs would let you have what you want while everybody else can have what they want.
    • We're going to take a step back about 20-30 years, but instead of smoking vs. non-smoking sections on flights, we're going to see cell phone talking vs. non-cell phone talking sections.
  • Doubtless these VoIP conversations will appear on the Letterman show in a "Top Ten" list of the most annoying aspects of airplane travel, along with crying babies and seats designed for underage midgets.
    • I predict a sudden rise in the sales of noise-cancelling headphones after VoIP becomes commonplace on airplanes.
      • I predict a sudden rise in the sales of noise-cancelling headphones after VoIP becomes commonplace on airplanes.

        I stopped using those on airplanes. While they do reasonably well at eliminating the very loud, dull roar of the airplane they leave behind the more high-pitched human voices, including people talking and babies howling.

        I guess it's all a matter of what one considers "noise" on an airplane. There's also the attendant feeling of greater ear-pressure, and the ache of wearing headphones continuosl
    • Why does everyone automatically assume that providing the ability to make VoIP calls from an airplane will immediately trigger in widespread annoyance and air rage? Airphone was around for years with hardly a peep from anyone. And yeah, I did occasionally see people using them. Why the moral panic only now?

      I think it's safe to predict that if you give airline passengers reasonably priced 802.11 access to the Internet, the vast majority will pull out their laptops, check their email and surf the web in s

  • Cost?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:49AM (#15329054)
    Airfone already offers phone service on many flights, but its high cost has limited its use

    You know what else is limited on airlines by cost?

    Everything.

    You know what would limit the cost of such services on airlines?

    Somehow being able to take away the monopoly of an airline catering to its customers aboard its own jet.

    AirFone is expensive because it's the only game in town. Making phone calls on airplanes will remain expensive until there are multiple carriers on the same flight. Good luck with that one.
    • You know what else is limited on airlines by cost?

      Everything.

      You know what would limit the cost of such services on airlines?

      Somehow being able to take away the monopoly of an airline catering to its customers aboard its own jet.

      AirFone is expensive because it's the only game in town. Making phone calls on airplanes will remain expensive until there are multiple carriers on the same flight. Good luck with that one.


      First of all, the airlines are private companies - you can chose to use or not use a specific
      • First of all, the airlines are private companies - you can chose to use or not use a specific airline. They have every right to chose what services to offer - and you can pick a different airline if you don't like what they offer

        I agree. I didn't say anything inherently negative about the matter. I said that they have a captive audience and commensurately high prices. They do. I wasn't saying that Congress should go in and change this, just that it's the case. It is.

        As for Airfone, they pay he ai
        • Don't worry, the rates they charge make wireless at StarBucks look like a bargain.

          US$26.95 is a bit of a hit, but it's really not when you're making a 14 1/2 hour long haul from Nagoya to Heathrow - under $2 an hour. Really, look at Airfone's rates, Connexion / airline could gouge you far harder than they're doing.

        • Don't worry, the rates they charge make wireless at StarBucks look like a bargain. Even so, I wish that they'd be lower. I don't know what not being connected to the Internet has to do with sanity...

          Sounds like we're in violent agreement.

          While wireless would be great if it was affordable, I shudder at the thought of sitting next to someone for 10+ hours as they chat on the phone. Fortunately, even if teh rates are low the latency will probably make VOIP next to useless.
        • Personally, I hope the service providers charge high fees for WiFi acess - that will limit usage and keep some sanity in the skies.

          The airlines are already doing everything they can to make the trip as excruciating as possible. And you're saying that a nice avenue of "escape" like the internet should be as highly priced as possible? Wi-fi is no the same as voip. And frankly, I'd rather have the dude wedged in next to me surfing the internet than trying to talk to me.
    • When flying overland, common cell phones works pretty good actually. Your battery just don't last long, since it uses high power, but you can make one or two calls while in the air.
      • When flying overland, common cell phones works pretty good actually

        Except for the fact that it's a violation of FCC rules to use a cell phone in an airplane at all.

        The problem is that when you raise a cell phone up high enough, it winds up being visible to way too may cells and causes excessive interference.

        • The problem is that when you raise a cell phone up high enough, it winds up being visible to way too may cells and causes excessive interference.

          So... to wreak havoc on communications, all a "terrorist" needs to do is tie a bunch of cheap cellphones to helium_filled balloons, dial 911, and let go? Sounds like the system is inherently weak and needs to be redesigned a bit. Why can't the towers talk to each other and tell each other which phones they're handling? Why does being visible to multiple towers H
          • Conceptually it is no different from living on a hill or a mountain. Lots of people use their cell phones for emergency comms when hiking in the Rockies.
            • Conceptually a pint container of water is no different than a gallon container either.

              For radio, the important factor is height above average terrain and the number of nodes that are significantly high, given that measure.

              If you built a city on top of the mountain, and had lots of folks using cell phones, then the cell service in the valleys below would be terrible. Fortunately, that's not how it usually happens.

              A few mountain climbers using cell phones higher than the average terrain aren't enough to

          • So... to wreak havoc on communications, all a "terrorist" needs to do is tie a bunch of cheap cellphones to helium_filled balloons, dial 911, and let go?

            That overstates things by a fair degree. It's an incremental thing. If it were allowed, then it would happen so often that the idea of cellular service wouldn't really work.

            Why does being visible to multiple towers HAVE to be a problem?

            Basically for the same reason that spam is bad. It overwhelms a channel dedicated to one conversation with a bunch

    • Somehow being able to take away the monopoly of an airline catering to its customers aboard its own jet.

      So bring your own food. I've done this for years, accepting only the free stuff that they hand out, and occasionally not all of that. Usually, it's as simple as a piece of fruit or a bag of chips; on other occasions, I've brought along basically entire meals, including sandwich, fruit, cookies, and string cheese. I just get the beverage from the cart, and I usually keep something for that just in case.
      • I believe that one airline in Europe has even done some trials, where the basic flights come out to some absurdly low number but people buy the amenities, and often end up spending just about the same money as before. Others walk in with little more than a portable music player, and pay the base rate, and are happy with it.

        I hope that that service comes to a US carrier soon. That would be great!
  • 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.

    • With so many planes in the air, it should be possible to rout packets from one plane to the next. It is just like the Internet works, but now the nodes are moving. It saves thousands of miles (up and down) to the satelite, so your ping rates should improve.

      Bert
      Patent attorney opposed to software patents. The above idea is a case in point that for software inventions you don't need any expertise, and not even a glass of beer to stir up the brain cells a bit. In case someone patents this, remember you saw it
  • Seriously Now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by resistant (221968) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:01AM (#15329081) Homepage Journal

    The problem with these potential yak-fests by seatmates and by nearby or loud passengers is being unable to escape from them. That will be quite stressful for some folks. It's not possible mid-flight to walk out of a plane in disgust. It's easy to foresee a spike in "air rage" incidents. The airlines may be forced to limit talk hours on longer flights (say two hours and up), or to provide "sound hoods" (although it's difficult to see how these could be designed to work well in such cramped quarters).

    These first efforts at mass access to in-air telephony will be mildly interesting social experiments.

    • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:17AM (#15329106)
      It's not possible mid-flight to walk out of a plane in disgust.

      That's not true at all. The difficulty arises upon trying to return to the plane.
    • The problem with these potential yak-fests by seatmates and by nearby or loud passengers is being unable to escape from them.

      Indeed, and with airplanes being very noisy environments people will talk even louder. The key then is to force them to have/want to escape from you. The return of the BFR/boombox? Inexplicable bouts of Tourettes? Ah, to be able to fart at will...
      • Ah, to be able to fart at will...

        Carbonated beverages - lots of tehm. Thge airlines will even provide the raw materials for free, you just have to do teh processing and delivery of the final product.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:40AM (#15329148) Journal
      Just put up a sign. "Please make your phone calls outside."

      Same place to deal with crying babies and anyone who snores.

      Or maybe airlines should just offer special areas in the plane for people that do not want to be disturbed. Would you pay 3times the ticket price for a private area free from the rest of humanity? It works on boats and trains. Cheap tickets you sit with everyone else, expensive tickets you got your own space.

      But yeah it is an intresting social experiment, how much are people willing to annoy a group for their own needs and how willing is the group to put up with the needs of an individual.

      It is nothing specific to cellphones. If you honk your car in the middle of the night to say goodbye you are just as much being an asshole.

      What I think is new is that it is more anonymous. A family that constantly has guests departing in the night and making noise will have to deal with the neighbours during the day. You are going to have to live in that neighbourhood for years to come so you better behave.

      This is far less the case with a cellphone. You will never see those people in the airplane again so who gives a fuck if they hate your guts.

      It is a reason some companies have put up a sticker on their vehicles to provide a phone number to call if the driver behaves badly. Without it the driver couldn't give a damn since he will never face the person he cut off in traffic. With the sticker he stand a real chance of being told of by his cheff. I seen several co-workers being reprimanded for people complaining about their driving in company vehicles.

      It would perhaps be intresting to see if the people that make annoying calls are themselves annoyed by other people.

      • maybe airlines should just offer special areas in the plane for people that do not want to be disturbed. Would you pay 3times the ticket price for a private area free from the rest of humanity? ... Cheap tickets you sit with everyone else, expensive tickets you got your own space.

        Err, uhh, yeah. I think they call it "Business" and "First" class.

        Internationally, at least, both of those will gain you a secluded near-coccoon.

        It's a novel concept I know, extending classes from boats and trains to these new-

        • 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.

      • Or maybe airlines should just offer special areas in the plane for people that do not want to be disturbed. Would you pay 3times the ticket price for a private area free from the rest of humanity? It works on boats and trains. Cheap tickets you sit with everyone else, expensive tickets you got your own space.

        Right idea, wrong way round. If you want to sit and yell into your cell phone ("I'M ON THE PLANE !!!!"), then you should pay 3 or 4 times more to sit in an isolated compartment.

        But yeah it is an int
        • Yeah, the asshats that want eigther to stupid to bring a $.30 pair of earplugs, or so arrogant that they think they should be able to control everybody elses behavior, so that they don't have to put in a $.30 pair of earplugs. After all, why should they have to modify THEIR behavior to get what they want, when they can demand that everybody else modify theirs to cator to them.
          • We have this concept of "society." Basically, it's held together by certain rules that allow people to exist in relatively close quarters without killing each other. In big cities or other situations where people are forced into even tighter than normal confines, social rules become more important.

            One of those is that you avoid making excessive noise. A quiet conversation with your seat mate is great. A quiet conversation with your cell phone is okay. But how many people make those? Usually it's more
          • This remembers me of the same old "be more tolerant" bullshit you hear from smokers. No one asking for natural, sane air (or an acceptable noise level) wants to modify the behaviour of anyone, they have the right in society to ask for it. If you are the one "modifying" standard living conditions (by polluting with smoke or noise), YOU have to take steps to avoid that others suffer. Sadly, this isn't understood be enough people.
            • In other words, your shade of gray is better than mine.... BS. You make noise all the time. You do things that other people would rather you not do. The difference is that because cell phones are reletively new, you and the other neo-luddites feel that you have some moral superior high ground, when in fact you are just arrogant. When you stop talking in public, then you will stop being a hypocrate.
      • Honestly, I welcome the prospect of having everyone talking on phones, maybe it'll drown out the sound of the screaming brat I always end up having to listen to for six hours on every flight I've ever been on.

      • Other way around -- phone calls are limited to business class. Your time is valuable enough that you have to spend the entire flight yaking? Then it's not too much to ask that you pay extra and get confined behind the blue curtain. ESPECIALLY on long haul flights when the rest of us want to sleep.

        Now, if someone sat beside me talking business on their cell phone I'd probably just whip out a notebook and start taking notes. Blatantly, in plain sight. See how long it takes them to notice and throw a temp
    • provide "sound hoods" (although it's difficult to see how these could be designed to work well in such cramped quarters).

      Max: We're testing the portable Cone of Silence
      Chief: What?
      Max: Cone . . . of . . .Silence!
      Chief: WHAT?
      Everyone else on plane: Shut the fuck up!

      KFG
    • The problem with these potential yak-fests by seatmates and by nearby or loud passengers is being unable to escape from them.

      Time to reintroduce the old smoking section in the back of the plane. This time not for smokers, but for yakkers. However, I do remember how I always would get a seat in the last row before the smoking section.

    • The problem with these potential yak-fests by seatmates and by nearby or loud passengers is being unable to escape from them.

      Which is no different from having a chatty seatmate that ignores your repeated attempts to terminate the one-sided conversation.

      Actually, if it's cheap, VOIP may be a great solution for that problem. They can call someone who *wants* to hear about their hemorrhoid surgery, and I can put on my noise cancelling headphones and retreat into a blissful illusion of solitude.

      Really,

    • The problem with these potential yak-fests by seatmates and by nearby or loud passengers is being unable to escape from them.

      I'd wager those same annoying passengers will talk loudly regardless of if they are on the phone or not. I just flew CDG > DWT > SFO, and each leg the person sitting next to me thought they should have a conversation with me anytime I opened a laptop - even if I had headphones on. Them talking to someone else on the phone would be a good thing. Hell, I would have paid $20
    • $2.99 for a bottle of a few dozen foam earplugs. Each pair is good for a couple of flights. The very small surcharge on a ticket is worth a lot.

      Better yet, get some Etymotic 4P 'phones & plug 'em into an iPod full of your CD's.

      I fly about weekly. Listening to favorite music at low volumes -- the roar of jets, as well as babies, etc., is blocked so effectively by these things -- makes for surprisingly relaxing travel. (Excellent hi fidelity, too.) Takes down the stress level a couple of notches. Read, sn
  • Is VOIP is on a separate network? Or is it sharing the same network as the digital fly-by-wire system [wikipedia.org]? Since Hollywood is remaking everything from the 1980's, I can see a whole new generation of Airplane [wikipedia.org] movies where a terrorist attack is averted because everyone uses the VOIP to call relatives and the plane crashes due to a lack of bandwidth while the pilots making out with the flight attendants in the cockpit.
  • Some carriers have been offering phone and fax services onboard for quite a few years, with reasonable pricing (~$1/min, IIRC). You'd just take the handset in front of your seat, switch it on, swipe a credit card and dial. While every passenger can afford a quick phone call, it is too expensive to talk for more than a few minutes, which I think is a good thing.
  • Instead of offering VoIP, instead offer content-neutral Internet access, and let customers use their own choice of VoIP providers.
  • As with any other use of mobile phones or VOIP via laptops, the real need is for education about AGC!

    Once people finally get the idea that talking at a normal level works just as well as shouting into the phone, the annoyance factor becomes no worse than any other quiet conversation around you.

    With cellphones, part of the problem is that there's no foldback to the earpiece, so there's no feedback assuring you that your voice is being heard. Do VOIP clients do this better? I know the one I use via an ATA a

  • For most passengers I'd rather them chatting on the phone than trying to chat with me.
  • this is definitly one context where you can really assume there is zero privacy considerations.

    because remember, virtues like respect for privacy are only for when they're convenient.
  • at least JetBlue has the free directv, etc.... so you can put on some headphones and drown out the phone chatter.
  • ..having to listen to someone blather on loudly in the neighboring seat on a flight. At least not if they lift the ban on compressed air horns.
  • I have a sure fire way to make VoIP non-annoying! Its called "sidetone" and its missing from all cellphones! Regular phones use them!!!! Sidetone sends some of your voice to your ear. This keeps you from screaming into the cellphone, and if its nice and loud, you can (and will want to) whisper. The only reason sidetone isnt in cellphones is the battery drain. BUT on an airplane, there could be powered VoIP phones which could strong sidetone.
    • "Sidetone" is called an echo from the fact the copper wire in your phone impedes the flow of electrons and you get feedback. It isn't desirable or intentional. :-)

      Just FYI.

      Cells don't have it because they're all digital (so is your landline after you hit the switch). Though on longer hops (like calling from europe) from a cell phone you can still hear some humming and other oddities (stupid 50Hz!!!!)

      Tom

  • Yeah, call me a pessimist, but whenever I see the words "Coming Soon" and "Government" close together, something makes me want to laugh.
  • Most carriers (if not all) still can't get the quality issues completely sorted with ground-based VoIP solutions, and they want to run it to an airplane now?

    Obviously a big issue is that packetized information follows a different set of rules than the traditional TDM voice communication non-VoIP uses - so the "Internet" is really a bad place to have time-sensitive information travel without a healthy bandwidth margin and robust network design. However even on some carrier networks doing VoIP that involve i

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