Wi-Fi takes to the skies

Passenger airplane trials today

A big fat Register hello to Hans Reiger, Fujitsu Siemens PR bunny, who sent us an email today - from 30,000 feet in the air. And he replied to our reply. OK, so it's not exactly an Alexander Graham Bell moment, and the pricing for emails from airplanes, will probably be horrendous, but yes, we were impressed.

Hans emailed us from today's Lufhthansa 747-400 flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, DC which is using an onboard broadband network for the first time on a commercial flight. The PC hardware is supplied xourtesy of Fujitsu Siemens, which is lending 50 Lifebook S6010s with integrated WLAN technology for use in the Lufthansa trials.

British Airway is set to introduce on-board broadband services next month.

Connexion By Boeing, the mobile information services division of the aircraft manufacturer, is providing the infrastructure that allows two-way-live data between the plane and the ground, with speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream. Cisco Systems is providing the technology for the onboard network with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) compliant wireless connectivity, in addition to Ethernet connectors in the passenger seats (in first and business class). The service will be delivered at no extra charge to passengers, with plans to offer wireless to economy seat passengers too as the trial progresses.

Connexion By Boeing has received to go ahead from the US Federal Aviation Administration to use WiFi networks with satellite links aboard planes, after satisfying the authority that the technology is safe.

Five Cisco Aironet 350 Series Access Points have been fitted throughout the plane, along with one Cisco 3640 Router and nine Cisco Catalyst 3548 XL Series Switches. The Cisco standard equipment has been modified, tested and certified by Lufthansa to meet civil aviation regulations.

The passenger trial on the Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, DC route will last for three months. If successful, Lufthansa hopes to roll out broadband connectivity on its entire intercontinental fleet over the next two years.

Cisco has embarked upon a major push to deliver broadband connectivity to vehicles and planes. The Cisco 3200 Series Mobile Access Router is specifically designed for incorporation into mobile vehicular systems, such as airplanes. It meets requirements for seamless mobility while roaming among wireless networks with Mobile IP in Cisco IOS Software as well as well as power, size and weight specifications suitable for airplane deployment. ®

Related Stories

British Airways flies high with broadband
CAA mulls ban on laptops which don't exist
Get online from low-earth-orbiting research craft

Sponsored: How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers