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Surfing at 35,000 Feet: In-flight Wi-Fi Just a Year Away

Well, you might not be able to use your cell phone to talk on a flight, but you can surf. Starting in 2008, U.S. planes will allow Wi-Fi in the air. For those of you who can’t bear to be disconnected from the Internet, this is your chance.

Now, we suppose that you could use a smartphone for Web access, although the main reason that the FCC keeps on banning mobile phone usage is the interference factor. We presume that Wi-Fi doesn’t present the same sort of problem, so as long as you are using that Blackberry in Wi-Fi mode, you should be good to go.

Another question we have is about portable VoIP phones. Presumably, using a VoIP connection is akin to surfing on a laptop. Does that qualify as being OK? We just don’t know.

What we do know is that AirCell will be the provider for in-flight Wi-Fi and that you’ll have an up-front charge of US$10. And what we also presume is that many larger planes will be outfitted with seat-back electrical outlets, so you can use that laptop and not have to worry about the battery running out in the middle of playing World of Warcraft … sorry, analyzing your company’s latest spreadsheets.

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