Web access in the clouds soon

SAN FRANCISCO: Coffee, tea or WiFi?  

Travellers will soon be able to surf the Net and send e-mail from thousands of feet in the air as Boeing Co’s Connexion business unit and a group of global airlines push to offer Web access in the ultimate wireless environment.  

WiFi wireless technology may be gaining acceptance in homes, offices and neighbourhood cafes. But in the sky, it is hampered by glitches that would prove frustrating with no network administrator in sight.  

Connexion president Scott Carson (right) and Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber surfing the Web on laptop computers hooked up to the Internet on the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Washington.

In a recent demonstration from 25,000 ft above the Golden Gate Bridge and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains in Yosemite National Park, Internet access was available for less than half of our 90-minute flight.  

The specially equipped Boeing 737 had laptops with Internet access tucked into the seat pockets and a satellite antenna on the roof for sending and receiving data via Telsat service to a ground station in Littleton, Colorado.  

Half of the laptops used Ethernet high-speed office network connections plugged into jacks on the hand-rests.  

The rest were using Intel Corp’s new Centrino wireless chip system that the company said would be available in new computer products beginning on March 12. – Reuters  

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