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Boeing Connexion, No More Wi-Fi at 30,000 ft? 192

symonty writes "After 6 years and one billion dollars, Boeing is evaluating whether or not their wifi for planes connectivity business can be a viable business. " I've never had the actual pleasure of evaluating it or not; some folks, however, have said it's a great service.
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Boeing Connexion, No More Wi-Fi at 30,000 ft?

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  • Money versus power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:49AM (#15604765) Homepage Journal
    Who is going to pay for an Internet connection on a really long flight when their laptop battery can't carry a charge long enough to use it all the way? I could use my LifeDrive, but that's not the best browsing experience. I wish AMTRAK would get wifi, as they have power outlets next to every seat and their trains take longer than aircraft.
    • by HaloZero ( 610207 )
      It'd probably be a shittonne cheaper to setup and manage, too. Therefore, it's not going to cost the customer almost what they would pay for a month from a traditional ISP.

      Even with an outlet, there's no way I'm going to pay 26.95 for a piss-poor connection with a ton of restrictions.

      (The above assumes that the service is locked down against anything put port 80.)
    • by Agent00Wang ( 146185 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:53AM (#15604800) Homepage
      That's what secondary batteries are for. I'd imagine that most frequent business travelers would be prepared for such a situation.
    • by jeriqo ( 530691 )
      If you have no more battery, just plug the laptop ?
    • by Steve Cox ( 207680 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:22AM (#15604971)
      > Who is going to pay for an Internet connection on a really long flight when their laptop
      > battery can't carry a charge long enough to use it all the way?

      Modern long/mediaum haul aircraft have personal power outlets on each seat into which you can plug special power adapters/inverters [expansys.com]. I only had a problem once, and that was easily solved by asking the stewardess to turn the power on....

      The biggest issue with these kind of internet connections is the price, which would certainly stop me from using it unless the company is willing to foot the bill (Anyway, I'd rather be watching a movie or sleeping than working).

      • by zaphod_es ( 613312 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @10:23AM (#15605377)
        You can find out what each airline offers at http://seatguru.com/articles/in-seat_laptop_power. php [seatguru.com]

        The aircraft power supply is usually restricted to 75 watts which is a problem for MacBook Pro and many powerful 17" PC laptops which need more than that.
        • But still, surely 75W can give the battery a bit more life even if the laptop draws more? It's like pumping a gallon a minute into a tank and taking two gallons a minute out, it will last longer.
          • Well, I blew the fuses on several sets of seats with my Acer Ferrari 4005, so the answer to your question appears to be "no".

            The stewards boggled, I boggled, and there was no mention of this limitation in any inflight information or in the material they had available.

            But I got lucky in that the fourth attempt didn't blow any fuses. :)

            As for the technical level of the service, I was satisfied.
      • > The biggest issue with these kind of internet connections is the price, which would certainly stop me from using it unless the company is willing to foot the bill (Anyway, I'd rather be watching a movie or sleeping than working).

        Work? No. Company pays the bill? Yes! ;-)

        I have a friend who does a lot of international travel. He uses and loves in flight WiFi. It costs him about $30 a flight. He uses it to check email (hence the company pays) and then plays WoW on it. And his latency is low (100-150)

        • If you don't mind my asking -
          What services is your friend using where he gets 100-150ms latencies? I work for a group that is looking to use mobile (city to city) broadband where something like Connexion would be ideal mobilitywise, but latency concerned us. We did our own estimate on what the latencies would be on anything satelite based and the results were much higher than 100-150.
          • Yeah, I was shock too when he came on line from 30k feet with such low latency - I expected major lag. I really don't know what system was used, although I think it must have been Connexion as it was Lufthansa flight IIRC.

            If you are looking into low latency mobilty satillite is typically not a good choice. I don't know if terrestrial networks are possible for you but I would seriously look into WiMax instead. I have had some involvement with it for the last couiple of years and it holds some amazing potent

            • What scares me is- GPS works fairly well if you're at the window-- so you could easily be transmitting coordinates of the plane with only a 100ms delay to someone on the ground. Send the packets with time-code off of the GPS, and the ground station could figure out exactly where the plane is, regardless of the lag by calculating the averaged speed/time/etc.

              With the removal of Selective Availability and 12 channel GPS's w/ WAAS and DGPS, you then have a resonably accurate fix which for someone with the means
              • I'm far from a physicist or a mechanical engineer, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that electricity usage does not tax jet engines. It was my understanding that the engine uses all of its fuel to keep the jet in the air, and gobs and gobs of electricity are pretty much a side benefit of having mechanical parts already moving, so you just slap on some magnets or something and drain off the power. That's why many of the large emergency generators you see in disaster
                • I had a friend who though the same thing reguarding his car. He figured replacing his belt driven water pump with an electric one powered by the alternator would save him the horse power needed to drive the original pump because power taken from the alternator was "free".

                  Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Placing a load on a generator or alternator makes it more difficult to turn and there are real forces involved. In the case of a plane, the power taken by 100 passangers using 75 watts each for a
      • Watching a movie ... how about, for example, watching stuff from your TIVO at home. You do have a TIVO and a Slingbox, right?
    • My laptop gets 4.5-5 hours of battery life on the second to lowest brightness setting (which is quite usable, especially when people close their windows and the movie starts). With an extended battery that would have been 9-10 hours.
    • Hear, hear. Add to the lack of power ports (which is mostly business class only, and then only on some aircraft), the lack of any real elbow room or enough tray room on most economy class seats. On most flights I cannot open a 14" or 15" laptop enough to make the screen visible at a comfortable angle. In fact I think that use case is the only decent argument for Tablet PCs yet.

      Boeing could probably increase revenue by just renting out Nokia 770s or other similar WiFi Web tablets that can actually be *use
    • Most airlines provide power sockets onboard anyways so you can run it on fresh juice. I've never actually used it since most of the time, I dont need more than 1 hr of use on a flight.

      I got to test out the Boeing connexion service on a recent flight from Singapore to Paris, where they were giving out something like 15mins of connection free to all passengers that look like they are carrying a laptop. I must say that I was impressed with the service. I thought I felt there was a lag, but like all IP stuff, y
      • You bring up an interesting point. Someone could have a headset and use something like Vonage SoftPhone to make phone calls to the ground for the same flat fee they're paying for the wifi. It's even more interesting now considering that Airfone is going away.
    • by scapaman ( 827445 )
      Just like GNER in the backwards old UK. Free internet for all this month too, not just those in 1st class http://www.gner.co.uk/GNER/mobileoffice/gotry [gner.co.uk]
    • try ANA (Score:3, Informative)

      by calculadoru ( 760076 )
      ANA (All Nippon Airways) have normal plugs built into each seat. power comes on as soon as you're airborne, so does the internet - and guess what, it all works seamlessly. they'll even lend you a LAN cable if you haven't brought your own - and they also have great service. a bit expensive but well worth it if you fly Tokyo - NY.

      just FIY.
    • And conversely, who's going to pay $27 for a 3 hour short trip when you can't even use it during takeoff or landing. It seems like they ought to bundle it into the cost of first class / business class tickets, or adjust its cost by flight duration.

      $27 for the 3-4 hour trips I usually take just doesn't seem worthwhile when most of it is wasted "returning my seatback to its upright position."

    • "Who is going to pay for an Internet connection on a really long flight when their laptop battery can't carry a charge long enough to use it all the way?"

      There's already a large group of customers that bring their less-than-flight-battery-life laptops on planes every day. It's not ideal, but I can already think of a few people (including myself) who, at the very least, would give it a good hard look. You have to remember that people have been bringing their less-than-flight-duration-laptops on planes for
  • Whoah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FirienFirien ( 857374 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:50AM (#15604772) Homepage
    How on earth did they manage to spend a *billion* on wifi? The systems in the plan are still wired, so you should only need to shield the cockpit and any more backwards-mounted instruments if you're worried that wifi operation at a completely different frequency to aircraft systems will affect the instruments, autopilot or ILS in any way. I'm astounded that it even cost a few million, let alone a billion. What the heck have they been doing with all that money?
    • Can you say "kickback"?
    • Re:Whoah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 )
      Probably 100 million to develop it and 900 million to test it to the point of insuring it won't cause an inflight issue.
    • Re:Whoah (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:12AM (#15604911) Homepage
      There are two basic components needed for a useful Wi-Fi connection:

      1) A WiFi access point. This is reasonably easy, even if you have to make it play nice on the plane. Flight safety certification/qualification is difficult. The FAA is (understandably) paranoid about such things and I'm glad they are.

      2) A connection to the outside world. On an airplane, this is much more difficult. Unless you want the system to be restricted to certain service areas (like CONUS only), this part means "satellite". Satellite means EXPENSIVE. Hell, even to provide full coverage of the CONUS airspace from the ground would be extremely expensive. $1 billion for such infrastructure seems cheap to me.
      • Re:Whoah (Score:2, Insightful)

        >1) A WiFi access point. This is reasonably easy, even if you have to make it play nice on the plane. Flight safety certification/qualification is difficult. The FAA is (understandably) paranoid about such things and I'm glad they are.

        I've got a real problem with this. WTF is up with this 'understandably paranoid' statement? The FAA doesn't know what will happen, and refuses to test and qualify *anything* to do with wireless or computers. They refuse to come up with acceptable RF leakage standards,
        • Re:Whoah (Score:3, Informative)

          by Twanfox ( 185252 )
          No, it's not always lazyness that prompts the 'turn all things off' mentality. I found a nice little article that describes some cases in which even FCC certified equipment raidiates more RF than it should, and why it is bad. Maybe it'll help.

          http://www.issues.org/19.2/strauss.htm [issues.org]
        • "I've got a real problem with this. WTF is up with this 'understandably paranoid' statement? The FAA doesn't know what will happen, and refuses to test and qualify *anything* to do with wireless or computers. They refuse to come up with acceptable RF leakage standards, they refuse to come up with a test method so that equipment can be qualified, and they continue to say on each flight "please turn everything off"."

          No, the FAA is perfectly happy to certify electronics that involve computers or wireless commu
        • The part that always bothered me about this policy is that it shows just how fragile modern planes are to electromagnetic interference. Should not the planes be designed and built to withstand the largest credible threat in at least a way that prevents the possibility of any sort of fatal crash?

          What happens when the rules about operating non intentional radiators are ignored by someone who deliberately powers up a wide band jammer or something even more sophisticated that is specifically designed to severe
    • Re:Whoah (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:23AM (#15604981) Homepage
      First of all, there's no "only" in doing it. WiFi, like mobile phones are designed to punch through walls and compared to the faint signals from the ground, it doesn't take much to disturb them. Still, if that was the true reason they'd offer you a ethernet jack instead. The real issue is the big honking broadband connection from the plane. Try telling the FAA you want to put a high-powered transmitter/reciever onboard a commercial jet. If you were a little start-up with "a few million", you wouldn't even pass the giggle test. You would have spent that money before you even had an overview over all the certifications and tests you had to pass.
      • Re:Whoah (Score:3, Informative)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        You left out that most likely they are using a satellite for the connection.
        That means that you would have to mount a phased array antenna. That means cable runs through the pressure vessel, extra drag, lightning protection and testing....
        Yes it is a lot more expensive than just plugging in a wap.

    • Re:Whoah (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KowShak ( 470768 )
      You need to do more than just shield the cockpit. Every wire that runs along the length of the plane is a potential aerial, it could pick up the wi-fi signal and carry it to somewhere where it can cause problems.

      The ILS system (or modern equivilent) is what is most susceptable to interference, thats the system that lands the plane, it can land a plane when the conditions are so bad that the pilot can't see the runway. Modern planes land themselves pretty much, they follow a radio signal to the end of the ru
    • Actually there are a lot more technical reasons why wifi would be so expensive on an aircraft, and it is not all down to having an additional transmitter on board. The problem is that modern IC dice have feature sizes so small that they are susceptible to the atmospheric radiation present at altitude. The problem is that it is not just a case of shielding the ICs concerned, as this doesn't work (we are not shielding a signal - we are talking sub-atomic particles here).

      The ever advancing computer industry
  • really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:50AM (#15604775)
    I fly a lot and I have yet to be able to get a WiFi connection on a plane. And given the astronomical prices of in-flight phone service, I suspect it would be too expensive even if I could.

    If Boeing wants WiFi to happen on planes, they need to make sure it's universally available, they need to include it free in first/business class, and they need to charge 128kbps) in economy class.
    • Re:really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Guanix ( 16477 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:54AM (#15604807) Homepage
      I use it everytime I fly SAS from Copenhagen to Shanghai, and it's not that expensive IMHO. Around $30 for the entire 11-hour flight, and there are cheaper per-hour pricing options available.
    • Re:really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @10:25AM (#15605386)
      I used it on a Lufthansa flight from the west coast to Kuwait. Given that it was a 23 hour flight (with connections) I hapilly paid the $26 to have broadband for my whole flight rather than watching the lamely edited movies on the plane. Heck, after my iPod ran out of power, I just flipped my laptop to Radio Paradise, and listend to it while flying over Iraq and into Kuwait.

      On the other hand, the only way I can see them having spent this kind of dough is on the aircraft transmitters. The satellite time itself is rather cheap, figure $75 an hour for a connection in the amount of bulk that Boeing was buying it in.
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:51AM (#15604787) Journal

    If a suitable deal could not be reached, Boeing would be prepared to shut Connexion down, even though the service works as advertised and is used by a handful of international airlines on long-haul flights, one of the sources said.

    Boeing has not said how much it has invested in Connexion, but people familiar with the situation say it is about $1 billion, according to the Journal.

    Some industry officials say the business, because of lack of interest among U.S. airlines in outfitting their fleets with the system, may be worth no more than $150 million, the report said.

    It's amazing that after 6 years with a working system, Boeing won't stick with this. It's been inevitable that Internet access would extend to airplanes and Boeing has it and now plans to give it up. I suspect someone will buy it on the cheap and turn around and make a profit on it in short order. Boeing may rue the day it turned its back on a potentially lucrative market all for lack of patience.

    • You're talking about a company that cuts entire aircraft production lines because they are no longer making money. Production lines that once made billions and billions of dollars. Why keep throwing good money away? Smart companies decide whether a business line can become profitable with good margins. Overly patient companies can end up going bankrupt. Even if Boeing spent more money on this and turned it around, odds may good that by that time that happened they'd have a lot of competition and tighter ma
  • by hipsterdufus ( 42989 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:53AM (#15604797)
    I was fortunate enough to have enough miles and therefore went with a first class seat. They had cigarette-style power plugs, and I had a car adapter for my laptop. They gave a free 1 hour coupon for Connexion, and I paid the full price for the 5 hour flight. What a godsend having the ability to surf while in the air, it makes the flight go much faster. Without a power plug, as is still standard for coach class, I wouldn't buy the service. That's the gist of the problem.
  • $27 access fee? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:58AM (#15604832) Journal
    Charging $27 to use the service on a coast to coast flight might have something to do with the poor uptake on the service. If that's close to what it's really costing them to provide the service then they were bound to lose and if it's several multiples over cost, they deserve to lose.

    So they lose either for being stupid or being greedy.
  • by D-Cypell ( 446534 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:59AM (#15604838)
    Surely it would be cheaper and easier to simply ensure that the inflight entertainment has a decent porn library.
  • IP Soft Phones? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcguru19 ( 33878 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:00AM (#15604842)
    Can you see the average flight attendant understanding that your bluetooth skype phone isn't a cell phone? Also, it only takes one wizzard that decides the flight from DC to Dallas is the perfect time to download Superman Returns instead of watching it like decent folks to screw everyone on the plane that paid for the service.
    • So just limit the bandwidth available to a single user. It's not exactly hard.
    • I suspect the latency of satellite Internet access would make your soft-phone useless anyhow. Also, there are relatively simple traffic shaping solutions to mitigate your Superman scenario.
      • Re:IP Soft Phones? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pcguru19 ( 33878 )
        On the ground, the Superman thing has been dealt with. But when dealing with an industry that hasn't changed their headphone ports in 30 years, I doubt they'd look at a packet shaper device on their freshman effort.

        Plenty of people running the Hughes Satellite Internet service are using VOIP with minor issues, but nothing that keeps you from having a conversation. With laptops coming with built-in WAN capabilities nowadays; I think that's how most folks that want access will get access. I've seen plenty
      • VOIP works fine (Score:3, Informative)

        I used Skype on a flight somewhere over Siberia (on Lufthansa's Frankfurt-Osaka route). It worked fine, with quite tolerable latency.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:02AM (#15604855) Homepage
    I've used it or some service like it (no idea if there's more than one; these flights are on an Airbus not Boeing) on flights between Japan and Europe, and believe me, it's worth every penny.

    Twelve hours of slow agony is transformed into an almost pleasant experience. When you can email and IM friends and family; check all your regular sites; search and read up on research you didn't have time for earlier; check out an endless variety of flash-games and other trivia. The mediocre in-flight movies just can't compete.
  • Sad to see it go (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stefanb ( 21140 ) * on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:04AM (#15604864) Homepage

    My girlfriend and I had the opportunity to use this onboard Lufhansa flights between the US and Germany a couple of times, and it's really a nice way to pass the time. Well worth the 30 bucks, for us anyway.

    Plus freaking out the other business class passengers when we set up a live stream and demonstrated the various positions you can put the seat into live from 30,000 feet to our friends back home :-) Considering that the connection is via geo-sync satellite and double-NATed, I was surprised at how well the streaming worked; only about 2 secs rtt, and we managed to push 200 kbit/s.

  • ObShatner (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:05AM (#15604872) Homepage Journal
    There's... someone on the LAN! Some... thing!
  • It will happen, but it will pretty expensive.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:13AM (#15604915)
    First they took away the free peanuts. Now the paid Wi-Fi is going away too. What's next? The seats?
    • by IdahoEv ( 195056 )
      What's next? The seats?

      Yeah, maybe [nwsource.com].

      • by ipfwadm ( 12995 )
        I saw that a while ago, though the article now says Airbus abandoned the idea a few years back. In any event, the idea of standing-room only on a plane should be made illegal. There's a reason you're supposed to lean forward and hug your legs in a plane crash - your spine has very little compression strength. So any force running parallel to your spine (think a plane hitting the ground while you're sitting up - or worse, standing) is a very bad thing. Leaning forward makes that force more perpendicular to y
    • What's next? The seats?

      Yes (http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F A0715FB395B0C768EDDAD0894DE404482)

  • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:19AM (#15604948)
    Boeing was at its best when there was competition. I think the Boeing 747 was/is the greatest airplane ever designed. Now only 2 state sponsored (Boeing with military contracts, Airbus with direct subsidy) remain. Monopolies seem to be such a huge drag and waste so much money it is not even funny. I am European and even though the new shiny Airbus 380 is pretty interesting technology wise I cringe every time I have to think of the billions of subsidies that went into it.
    • Boeing with military contracts, Airbus with direct subsidy

      Boeing did not have a substantial military division until it merged with McDonnell-Douglas in the mid-90's. It's two most successful lines- the 737NG and the 777-- were therefore not funded with military contracts. Airbus, on the other hand, has had launch subsidies since it's very beginning, continuing onto today where it is asking for launch aid for the A350. Besides, EADS is a military contractor as well-- shouldn't that count as military subsid

  • really great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PureCreditor ( 300490 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:24AM (#15604991)
    at $19.95 flat, Japan Airlines offered me unlimited access using Connexion at true broadband speeds. Sure the latency is low, but it's a huge boost for productivity. And seriously, how many internet cafes you know offer 13 hours of service for only $20 ?

    it'll be really sad if Boeing cancels the service, cuz Connexion is one of my primary reasons I'll fly JAL or Lufthansa.
    • In London, the going rate is about £1/hour. So that would be about $23 for 13 hours of super fast broadband. And London is expensive compared to the rest of Europe. I was doing a little searching, and you guys in the States get well ripped off here. In particular New York. Like $1/min in some places or $25/hour in others. I don't understand it! I was under the impression that London property is more expensive, London salaries were higher, the cost of living here is higher. What the hell?!

      • I think you answered your own question: "some places." Your one data point of $1/min is just that -- one data point. I paid $19.95/month for unlimited wifi in New York -- significantly less than £1/hour.
    • See subject. Just a little side note there.
  • by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:29AM (#15605024)
    Now I might have to read a... a... a.... book!
  • It wasn't terribly fast, but once I read that it'd be available, I charged up a few extra batteries for my flight from Chicago to Copenhagen (SAS Airlines).

    Also keep in mind that most airlines have power outlets in their higher-class seats. Some even have them in every seat. Check out http://www.seatguru.com/ [seatguru.com] to see the ammenities in various airlines' planes.

    I even used a softphone (Cisco IP Communicator) and made a phone call from the flight! Sure, there was about a second of lag, but people around me w
  • Aircell Axcess (Score:3, Informative)

    by Malluck ( 413074 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @10:15AM (#15605324)
    Yes, Boeing getting out of the broadband business, but they are not the only providers of air based broadband. Enter Aircell [aircell.com]. They already offer an Iridium (satillite) based data connection products and services. Yes, it's dead slow. You're not going to be playing Doom3 or any other FPS over this link.

    A few weeks back Aircell [aircell.com] also picked up the spectrum currently used by verizons air-to-ground telephone service (Magnastar). Air-to-ground communications offers lower latency, higher speed data connections. Magnastar will be phased out starting in 2008, coinciding with Aircells new broadband service.

    Aircell is poised to roll out a major broadband service by 2008.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @10:19AM (#15605351)
    If the concerns about internal systems being disrupted by WiFI are such as big deal, why not just build Ethernet ports into new / revamped airplanes?

    I realize that some people's Palm Pilots, etc. don't have Ethernet jacks. But pretty much every laptop does. Wouldn't this at least make the concerns about WiFi-related interference of flight systems just.. go away?
  • Sometimes I wonder how these top-level execs at companies like Boeing make it to their positions. Can't they see that people *want* WiFi on planes because flying is a *boring* experience?

    Companies like Boeing and all the airlines (like American Airlines, et al), should realize that they are in the business of flying people around, not in the ISP business. If they make a buck on WiFi, good for them, but that should not be the motivation to offer WiFi, customer satisfaction should be, an *that* is what makes
  • I would personally use this service on every single flight I take. I am Gold elite on Continental and with the exception of code shares w/ Korean air this service is simply not offered. I would even use this service on 1-2 hour flights. Please do not evaluate the viability of the business model when you don't have any adoption rates! Like the telcos / cable systems you will have to absorb an up front capital roll out cost to get the subscriber base. There are also a lot of other side industries here -
  • February 2006, Flight from Singapore to Frankfurt, Singapore Airlines.

    About an hour into the flight I get out my laptop to quickly check my email. Wifi connection is great, browser shows a login page that asks for my credit card number. $29.95 for the whole flight. Well, whatever. Man gönnt sich ja sonst nichts.

    I briefly consider using http://thomer.com/howtos/nstx.html [thomer.com] [NSTX] and fumble around for a bit, then decide to shell out the dollars because I can't get a connection to my NSTX master. (Later fo
  • Eventually one airline will offer Wi-Fi service for free, making it the deciding factor for many people when choosing airlines. It doesn't cost a whole lot for them to offer the service. and if it makes professionals all over choose their airline over all of the competitors it is well worth the investment. Wi-Fi service itself does not have to be fee-based in order for it to be profitable.

    Think about it: if you have a laptop, PocketPC, or whatever and know you're going to be suck in a crowded cabin for anyw
    • Re:Eventually. . . (Score:2, Informative)

      by ecxman ( 218342 )
      "It doesn't cost a whole lot for them to offer the service."

      What do you base this on? FCC regulations require a dedicated air-to-ground system, which currently does not exist, or an air-to-satellite system. If you want to offer the service over water, then you need to support air-to-sat. If you want low latency over the ground, then you want air-to-ground. Boeing spent Billions setting up the system they have. Yes inmarsat offers a similar service with lower bandwidth. The FAA would not allow WiFi in the ca
  • I have a fairly crappy connection somewhere over the Iran between Frankfurt and Chennai. Every so often it stalls. But, WTF, I'm on the air and I can connect to the Internet. Isn't that a really good thing? Hey I can even tell people how late the flight is running (about 90 minutes).

    As for power, I have 220v by the seat. Batteries aren't really a problem here. It isn't that expensive. The only issue is that we need some competition to keep Boeing honest. Perhaps AIrbus can do something if they can get the

  • On my round the world trip I used it to remote desktop back into my machine at home. Was expecting satellite lag like the days of old, but it really wasn't an issue, performance was fine. IM'ing your friends from 30,000 feet is kinda cool :) Also renewed my primary domain name mid-flight (oops!).

    Unfortunately then the battery ran out, and that's the real problem. If in-seat power is impractical, I wonder if airlines could hire out battery power packs instead...

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.