Surf the Friendly Skies – More Airlines Offering Internet Access at 30,000 Feet

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Several major airlines are now offering high speed Internet access to their passengers. Scandinavian airlines has just announced their offering on all long-haul routes, and Lufthansa’s in-air high speed Internet access has been in place for the better part of a year. In fact, all told, there are at least four major airlines now offering high speed Internet access in the air, Japan Airlines (JAL) and and All Nippon Airways (ANA) rounding out the group.

Interestingly, while these airlines service many major American hubs, there seem to be no American airlines who themselves are yet offering in-air high speed Internet access. This is all the more interesting when you consider that they are all using Boeing’s – a U.S. based company – Connexion service to provide the Internet access to their passengers.

One of the primary reasons for the dearth of U.S. based airlines offering in-air Internet access has been that the cost to outfit a plane with Internet access has typically been as much as $500,000 per airplane, and U.S. based airlines are just not financially flush enough to, um, catch up to the 21st century as have done their European and Asian counterparts.

However, the FCC has just recently approved for Internet access the use of the frequency which is already being used for in-air public telephones. Insiders say that this could bring the cost down to a more managable $100,000 per airplane.

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It is estimated that United States domestic flights could have in-air Internet services “in a couple of years”, according to an AP report. In the meantime, European and Asian skies will remain just a little bit friendlier than the American skies.

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