10 Observations About In Flight Wi-Fi

November 23, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Brian Lam at Gizmodo.com took a flight on Virgin America as they did a Beta run of their Wi-Fi service, over San Francisco. His testing gives some great incites into how internet access is going to work when most airlines go live in 2009. To make it more fun Brian posted this list while he was 15000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

1. Forget about sleeping or playing games on your business flights.  Now your boss will be expecting you to work and checking your email.
2. Total bandwidth is not as fast as Cable Modem, but it seems faster than slow DSL. (On the test flight they were sharing 3.6Mbps down and 1.8Mbps up, which isn’t bad at all.)
3. But bandwidth is shared between customers. Aircell’s GoGo a 3GHz EVDO-Rev A related tech modded for ground to air, started crawling as soon as other passengers signed on.
4. You probably will have to pay. Virgin America charges, for example $9.95 for flights under 3 hours, and $12.95 on flights over 3 hours.  No word on whether it’s a First Class perk.
5. You will still need to close your laptops and shut off your devices until you reach cruising altitude.
6. Most airlines, even those that are not blocking ports, are blocking known VOIP ports. For our sanity. Although one passenger WAS able to initiate a really solid iChat video session, but they may filter this on real flights.
7. Although plenty of airlines will have Wi-Fi by the end of next year, Virgin America offers 110v AC power plugs in coach.
8. WiFi porn won’t be blocked by Virgin America or American Airlines (according to a test earlier this week.) But blocking porn is silly — people can easily play porn on DVDs or predownloaded files, but people generally have refrained so there’s no reason to think they’ll do otherwise now.
9. Flights using Go Go service will be able to connect to a VPN.
10. You can file share with other computers on the 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi network. That’s good for gaming, but also, make sure your firewall is up.

Most of this applies to Virgin and GoGo’s service. And since GoGo will be providing service for companies like Delta and AA and eventually more, much of this will apply to other airlines.


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