Boeing Forges Ahead With Airborne Connectivity – Mobile Voice
Although the majority of airline passengers (and your Techdirt staff) would rather not have to endure mobile voice services in airplanes, Boeing moving ahead with technologies to enable them. For its part, Boeing expects to have cellular service on planes technologically available by 2006, though there are still regulatory hurdles. As our readers know, Boeing offers the Connexion service which offers WiFi broadband inside airplanes, which is backhauled by a satellite network. Once a plane has this backhaul radio installed, it is a relatively simple matter to add voice locally inside the plane: There are two ways: 1) simply using VoIP or VoWiFi on the existing WiFi network, either through a PC VoIP client, or through dedicated VoWiFi handsets, 2) using a low-power GSM and/or CDMA base station inside the plane to which customers can connect their cell phones. What’s new in this story is that it seems Boeing and the industry have heard the overwhelming negative response from the public, which doesn’t want to get seated next to someone who won’t stop yakking. But has the industry listened? Not really. Despite the fact that the public opinion is unambiguous, industry is forging ahead with airborne yakking, while proposing “certain quiet periods on flights or quiet zones.” But in some senses we agree with the airlines: even though people don’t want to be inundated in the annoying half-conversations of their fellow passengers, they are unlikely to find their own conversations annoying, and thus might use the phone services despite themselves. In other news, Boeing is growing the Connexion business by marketing it to ships at sea, offering new competition to incumbent Inmarsat.