WiFi coming to American Airlines flights
Business executives who can’t seem to wean themselves off e-mail, even in a short flight will be pleased to know that American Airlines could be bringing WiFi service to some of their flights in the near future as the airline company will soon roll out WiFi service tests on selected Boeing 767-200s. American Airlines will use Aircell’s Internet broadband connectivity gear in these jets, with the ultimate aim of equipping all 15 of their 767-200s with broadband service before the year is over.
While this development isn’t exactly new (in-flight broadband has been making its rounds for some time already, with Boeing’s Connexion launched at the turn of this century only to shut down a couple of years back due to low uptake. I suspect the price factor had a lot to do with it – $10 for half hour or $30 for the entire flight is just too much to ask, while folks flying economy do not have any power outlets at their seats to keep the passengers’ respective laptops juiced up for the entire flight duration), it is still interesting to see how American Airlines will approach pricing territory in order to achieve a profit. Other airlines that offer in-flight WiFi broadband connection include Jet Blue, German carrier Lufthansa, and Australia’s Qantas.
At press time, plans for the WiFi service will see it being implemented in just a few routes, namely transcontinental US flights. Of course, one will naturally expect some progress from there in the future, which means that the same service could possibly make its way to shorter flights down the road. Each plane will be outfitted with three antennae, where one on the top is for GPS while the other two will remain at the bottom. As for the broadband signal, it will come from Aircell’s 92 cellular towers which are strategically located across the continental 48 states, operating on the 3GHz frequency band. The 802.11b/g signal will be evenly distributed throughout the aircraft cabin via access points located in the ceiling. According to Aircell, the surfing experience will be close to that of using mobile 3G broadband. Word has it that this service will be priced at $10.
Source: Ars Technica