Thu, Aug 2nd 2007 12:28am
One of the many modern tech myths seems to be the idea that in-flight internet access is guaranteed to be a success, even though this has proven not to be the case. The supposed demand for the service among travelers hasn't been enough to overcome the cost of the service, both for airlines and end users, and technical barriers, as highlighted by the failure of Boeing's much-hyped Connexion service. Now, however, one of the airlines that offered Connexion, Lufthansa, says it's working with T-Mobile to bring back in-flight internet access, while American has signed a deal with AirCell to offer its service to travelers on some planes. Lufthansa wants a system that supports WiFi, but also SMS and cellular data, though it won't allow cellular voice calls; American plans to test WiFi access on some transcontinental domestic flights before deciding whether to proceed. The American system will differ from Connexion in that it won't use satellites, but an air-to-ground radio system, explaining why it will only be available domestically. Hopefully this will translate into lower costs for consumers than the $30 per flight Connexion charged, otherwise the service will suffer the same fate. Lufthansa is reportedly looking at a satellite-based system for its long-haul flights, and unless it's figured out some way to slash the costs of such a system and pass the savings on to consumers, it's hard to see things working out any better this time around.
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