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American Airlines In-flight Wi-Fi Test

American Airlines has signed a deal to be the first U.S. airline to test high-speed broadband in its aircraft. The test will be conducted next year on American’s Boeing 767-200 aircraft. These are the plane that primarily fly transcontinental routes, so you’ll have 5ish hours to surf the web. Time to finally invest in an airline power adapter…

“We understand that broadband connectivity is important to our business customers and others who want to use their PDAs and laptops for real-time, inflight broadband communications,” said Dan Garton, American’s Executive Vice President – Marketing. “This is part of our continuing effort to enhance the travel experience for our customers and meet their evolving needs.”

The solution will provide passengers with e-mail and web access on laptops and PDAs. It will be available in all classes of the B767-200 aircraft for a fee. If the solution is successful (and barring horrible tech problems I’m sure it will be), it could be
extended to the rest of American’s domestic fleet.

The technology will use three antennas installed on the outside of the aircraft (two on the bottom of the aircraft and one on top.) AirCell, the provider, will provide cellular towers throughout the continental United States to transmit the signal. The signals received inside the cabin will be 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi signals. Whatever that means.

I’m looking forward to it. Although I have to wonder how the airline plans to keep flyers from using broadband phone services while in the air. I mean, if they don’t want cell phones used, surely they have a plan in place to keep people from using Skype and other services.