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Johanne Torres[October 28, 2004]

Are You Ready to Surf on Air?


Think you’ll catch some Z’s in-flight during your next business trip? Well, think again, because pretty soon you’ll have to stay awake and do some work instead—courtesy of Connexion by Boeing. Connexion, a division of airplane manufacturer Boeing, is taking WiFi to new heights, literally. The company started equipping its airplanes with WiFi access, allowing passengers to utilize their laptops to connect at broadband high-speed to the Web during flights.

Each plane equipped with the Connexion by Boeing service offers either an Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN) connection or a wireless 802.11b network connection, or both. The service is currently being used during Luftansa and All Nippon Airways flights between San Francisco, Los Angeles, Munich, Tehran, and Tokyo. The company is currently working to extend the service to flights between Charlotte, Denver, Frankfurt and Shanghai by the end of this year. Passengers flying on China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines and Singapore Airlines are next on Boeing’s list to receive the high-speed in-flight Internet service on selected routes all around the world.

The minimum hardware and software required to use Connexion is a laptop (PC) or notebook computer with Microsoft Windows 95 or higher or an Apple Macintosh laptop with Mac OS X or OS 9 and Open Transport 2.6. Users also need a wireless adaptor/card; configured and operational 802.11b network interface; and an Internet Web Browser such as Internet Explorer 5.0 or Netscape Navigator 4.7 or higher, with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and JavaScript-enabled.

The service offers two different plans for passengers to choose from: Internet Flight or Internet Minutes. The Internet Flight plan offers passengers unlimited access during their flight at $14.95 for service on short-haul flights under 3 hours; $19.95 for service on medium-haul flights between 3 to 6 hours; and $29.95 for service on long-haul flights over 6 hours. The Internet Minutes plan offers passengers access for the first contiguous 30 minutes for an initial fee and $0.25 per minute thereafter. The initial fee for service on short haul flights under 3 hours is $7.95 and $9.95 for medium and long haul flights over 3 hours.

How awesome will it be to one day use our VoIP-enabled softphones in-flight instead of those credit card-activated Airphone antiques?

Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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