In December 2007, JetBlue Airways began offering “free e-mail and instant-messaging service” on one of its aircraft, writes The New York Times
. In the coming months, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will try to provide more extensive broadband services.
The Wi-Fi service will not allow the use of cell phones because the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration still prohibit their use in the United States. The European Union, however, recently approved cell phone use
A Forrester Research survey indicated that “55 percent of travelers on flights of four hours or more said they would be interested in paying for in-flight wireless access,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle
As the use of Wi-Fi on airplanes is still in its early stages, connection speeds may not be as fast as many passengers are accustomed to, although the speeds vary depending on the service used by the airline.
But in a few years Internet service on airplanes should become commonplace and expected, according to Henry Harteveldt, an analyst with Forrester Research
The notion that Internet access in the sky may become so ordinary is worrisome to some people. Al Sacco
, a blogger on mobile and wireless issues, pleads, “Can't I just disconnect for a few minutes each day? Is that really too much to ask?”
Blogger Tim Lee expressed more hope on the site Techdirt
, suggesting that business travelers will benefit from the new technology and “airlines that permit calls will be more profitable.”