Following approval by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration, AirCell announced it will bring in-flight Internet service in airlines, which passengers can avail of starting early next year. In 2006, the airplane cabin communications company shelled out $31.3 million to own spectrum formerly used for pricey air-phone service, which it will now devote to Internet and cellphone service.
Under the plan, AirCell promises to finish installing equipment, which weighs less than 100 pounds, on the cabin overnight. The gear will serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot and enables laptop computers and devices such as a Wi-Fi-enabled Blackberry to access the Internet. Blumenstein said passengers will pay no more than $10 per day for the service and sees partnerships with T-Mobile, iPass and Boingo. He expects speeds of the in-flight service to be similar to that on the ground. The service, however, will not allow VoIP calls except when pilots, flight attendants and air marshals need to speak with people on the ground concerning scheduling, safety and security issues.