American Airlines announced it will start a trial for in-flight WiFi on a flight from New York to California in January 2008. If the trial goes well American Airlines will equip 14 additional flights with WiFi:
American Airlines is teaming with Colorado-based communications provider AirCell in the launch of an onboard Wi-Fi system on transcontinental flights early next year. The high-flying broadband service is expected to give travelers the ability to check e-mail, surf the Web, access corporate intranets, and monitor the latest news through the use of any Wi-Fi enabled laptop, PDA, or smartphone.
Of course, Americans have heard all this before, only to be disappointed. Aircraft-maker Boeing promised to bring the Internet to the skies years ago, then shut down its Connexion by Boeing business because it was unable to attract customers from an airline industry mired in economic woes.
Still, IDC research director Rena Bhattacharyya said she thinks Wi-Fi stands a much better chance of flying next year because the airlines are feeling the pressure from passengers used to obtaining instant broadband gratification.
"A far greater number of people are accustomed to getting Internet access wherever they are now," Bhattacharyya explained. "And the desire is stronger than it was just a couple of years ago," she said.