Aircell To Launch Airborne Broadband Internet

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Aircell has installed 92 cell sites across the country to bring 3.1 megabit per second internet access to aircraft. The company's system uses onboard technology to amplify the signal and split it into separate Wi-Fi streams to offer passengers internet access via the wireless device of their choosing (subject to air carrier, or pilot, approval). Aircell says the connection speed should mimic that of a home DSL connection and the company plans to roll out the service, dubbed GoGo, on American Airlines flights this spring. Pricing plans are expected to chime in under $15 for a coast-to-coast flight and may include on-demand TV shows and movies for an additional charge. The hardware can be retrofitted to aircraft overnight adding a total weight, including servers and antennas, of less than 50 pounds while enabling everything from laptops to iPhones. Aircell expects other airlines to quickly follow American and has already announced that Virgin American will follow, this summer.

At least one previous attempt to bring the internet into the world of airborne aluminum tubes was pioneered by Boeing's Connexion in-flight satellite service. That program was shelved after 9/11 and after Boeing reportedly invested close to $1 billion in the project.