Wireless in-flight Internet has been available on a handful of international carriers ever
since 2004. But several companies are planning to expand service dramatically over the next
two years on international and even domestic flights.
Boeing's Connexion service, which is already on 100 planesincluding those flown by
Lufthansa, SAS, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlineswill be installed on at least
100 more by the end of 2006. OnAir, a joint venture between Airbus and the telecommunications
firm SITA, currently provides only in-seat text-messaging and Web-based e-mail from mobile
devices; however, the company plans to add high-speed Wi-Fi access by 2007. KLM, Iberia, Northwest,
Virgin Atlantic, and Qantas are among the 11 airlines who already contract with OnAir. Verizon
Airfone is said to be working on wireless Internet, too; however, its service would be limited
to domestic flights.
But the spread of in-flight Internet may not please all passengers. Savvy business travelers
are already using Connexion to place unlimited international calls from 30,000 feet with free
Internet phone services such as Google Talk (www.google.com/talk) and Skype (www.skype.com).
All you need is a laptop and a computer headset. So much for getting a little peace and quiet
on that red-eye.