Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surfing Your iPhone--In A Plane - Start-up Aircell wants cellphone users to go online in-flight.

If you've flown across the country on American Airlines, Delta or Virgin America recently, you probably know it's easier than ever to get online in the air. Thanks to a company called Aircell, it's about to get even easier.

The Itasca, Ill.-based firm provides an in-flight Wi-Fi service called Gogo. When Gogo launched last summer, laptop users, particularly business travelers, were the first to log on and pay. Now Aircell is trying to entice owners of cellphones and other mobile devices to use Gogo, too.

For the most part, Gogo users get the same Internet experience they would using a Wi-Fi hotspot on land. Users can surf the Web, check e-mail, watch YouTube videos, download attachments and send instant messages. Speeds lag regular Wi-Fi but are comparable to mobile broadband. Gogo charges a flat fee of $9.95 for laptop users (on flights shorter than three hours) or $12.95 (on longer flights).

Aircell is coming off a busy few months. Its service is currently active on 117 planes across three different carriers and will soon be available on two more (United Airlines and Air Canada.) On Tuesday, Aircell plans to announce that American Airlines will expand Gogo to most of its fleet. The company says 2009 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year, with Gogo slated to be on as many as 1,200 planes by year-end. "We're expecting a big change in scale," says Tom Weigman, Aircell's executive vice president of wireless services.

Read the rest of the article - http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/30/aircell-smartphones-mobile-technology-wireless-aircell.html

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