On the ground we live in a world of easy communication. Access to the internet is pretty much everywhere, from Wi-Fi, to phones, to city-wide free wireless access. However, the technology has seemed to take a while to find a foot hold in the sky.
It would seem to make sense. People are willing to pay to use the internet at hotspots on the ground (even at the airports) why hasn’t the technology taken off (heh) in the air?
Connexion by Boeing used to be the beacon of hope. Here was a big name (you probably have heard of Boeing if you are reading this blog) that was to provide internet access to passengers on planes. It went online on May 17, 2004 and only lasted until December 31, 2006. Boeing stated, “the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected.”
Prices varied from $9.95 per hour to $29.95 for unlimited access. Even though this might be a little too pricey for some, it would seem cheap enough to provide enough entertainment, communication, and business productivity for those who are dropping at least a few hundred on a ticket.
So, where is the beacon of hope now? One of the brightest beacons is Row 44. It was also created in 2004 around the same time as Connexion, but unlike Boeing it is still around and with a hopeful future.
Row 44 currently has plans to set up trial runs on Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately there was been a little delay due to competition for FCC approval. However they are on track now for testing to start in early 2009. The beauty for those of us in North America, is we might have a chance to use the system (Connexion was not in N. America).
One way or another, I have faith that sometime in the near future we will have seamless internet connection from the ground into the air. Many people have already made it clear they don’t want to be sitting next to someone for a few hours talking on their cell phone (including myself), but I know I would love to be entertained (and gosh maybe even write an airline blog) at 30,000 feet in the air.