While airlines in the United States race to complete rollouts of in-flight internet connectivity, airlines in Asia are busy implementing GSM/GPRS connectivity for mobile devices on their airplanes. Singapore Air is the latest to announce such plans, indicating that they will install the picocell service from provider OnAir on their fleet of Airbus A340-500 and A380 aircraft as well as their Boeing 777-300 planes. The carrier intends to begin installation of the hardware in early 2011.
The OnAir product allows airlines to offer both voice and data services to their customers. Voice services will be billed at global roaming rates – rarely cheap – which helps to control the usage and limit the impact on other passengers. Data service rates are set by the carrier and Singapore Air has not yet announced their intentions on that front.
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There is a line in the movie Gladiator which goes “he’ll feed them death and they’ll thank him for it”.
It springs to mind every time I hear another airline joining the bandwagon of airlines offering in-flight connectivity at altitude.
The safety of these technologies is debatable on the ground and airlines are rushing to implement them in an even more unstable environment in the air. All for the sake of an additional revenue stream in a competitive market.
Welcome to the beginning of a catastrophe on the scale of the Tobacco industry fiasco!
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