Posted October 3, 2007 1:10 pm by with 15 comments

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Alaska Airlines will be the first U.S. airline carrier to test satellite internet service on their flights. The wireless internet will be tested on one plane. If that goes well all 114 of their planes will get the service.

The airline, based in Seattle, is getting broadband service from a company called Row 44 Inc. They’ll put the service on a Boeing 737 jet next spring. The connection will hold over water and across international borders. They fly to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.

You’ll be able to connect your laptop or smart phones. What will the service cost? That is still being worked out. They are still researching the cost, even considering free service for some passengers to a day pass.

Alaska Airlines isn’t the first to try offering internet access on places. In August, American Airlines said they would test high-speed Internet access on some of its Boeing 767 jets. They are using cell towers not satellites.

Boeing tried to offer the service but stopped when they couldn’t get enough airlines to sign on. Some of that was affected by 9/11 and perhaps because the service was quite expensive. Their service was also by satellite and cost $10 for the first hour, or $27 for 24 hours.

I for one, can’t wait until I can blog in-flight. Looks like it may not be far off. I’ll start planning my trip to Mexico first.

  • This would be a great service for business travelers. Plus for those school students, it would make it much easier to do your homework on the plane.

  • @Neil: Homework… right… =p

  • I see the use for business travelers. I’m not sure I need to be connected so often that I’d pay for it in yet one more place. It would depend on the price of course and how much work I had to do. Usually I’m fine taking a nap on flights, though.

    It’s still pretty cool to be able to connect to the internet from the plane. How long till the first person sends

    “You’ll never guess where I’m emailing you from”

  • Can’t wait for this to be ubiquitous! Still, I think price will be the major factor affecting general adoption. It might end up dividing the haves from the have-nots.

    If it proves to be expensive, I’ll just carry a battery powered hub and a bunch of network cables with me and try to leach off someone in business class 😉

  • It could be literally referred to as “high-speed Internet access” since your on a plane.

    So now we have in flight online access, pretty cool. They still won’t let you use a mobile phone. 😛

  • Herm

    Think about the VOIP possibilities!

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  • DemonWasp

    Think of the laaaaaag. It’s a satellite connection to a ground station, so you have to think:

    total latency = (plane-to-satellite + satellite-to-ground + ground-to-source) * 2 for making the return trip.

    So: no gaming on airlines, no VOIP without a massive lag (though you can work through that), and probably not enough bandwidth for video for a long time.

    You can figure that internet browsing could get old fast, too, since any site’s load time would be increased by that “total latency” I talked about.

    This system isn’t for “fun” uses, it’s for business stuff (email)…in my opinion. I could be wrong, and it’d be nice if I was.

  • @DemonWasp, I used Boeing’s service in May 2005 when they were still around and while there was some latency, World of Warcraft was still playable. Here’s a blog post on it at the the time from me doing PVP at 30,000 feet.

  • John

    Well Internet is fine and dandy, but until more Economy class seats have AC Power plugs it doesn’t do a whole lot of good.

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  • Gil T. Gonzales

    This a good news for travellers, especially for flights more than 12 hours. Definitely, I will be interested of this service. However, there should be restrictions ro control on providing internet service to avoid internet down-time (e.g. online games, voip, and the like)

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