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In-flight Wi-Fi auction begins

Whether you want it to happen or not, the use of cell phones on that oh so comfortable airplane voyage is coming.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is definitely in favor of those who want to talk on the plane. The FCC is auctioning off frequencies to use for in-flight Internet service. This means that those of you with VoIP phones (and this is more and more of the mobile talking population) will be able to have your chats and/or play your online games at 30,000 feet.

The auction is expected to take several days to complete. Then, it’s just a matter of getting airlines to install the equipment.

It’s the latest in a series of efforts to make it easier for airline passenger to surf the Web in-flight. One major airline, United, now has permission to install Wi-Fi networks on its domestic flights. United’s partner in this operation, Verizon Airfone, is one of the bidders in the FCC auction. Other bidders include LiveTV, the parent company of which is low-cost airline JetBlue.

How this all shakes out remains to be seen. What is entirely clear, however, is that cellular-network telephones will still be banned from in-air use. You can’t have everything.

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