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British Airways to enable mid-Atlantic texting

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British Airways has announced that customers crossing the pond on their new service from City Airport to New York will be able to send text messages and access the internet from the middle of the Atlantic.

The new service, which will launch later in the year, is business class only and will stop off in Ireland on the way to America, though the return journey will be non-stop thanks to a following wind. Stressed executives will be able to connect to a GSM picocell on the aircraft for data access and text messaging. Voice calls won't be allowed initially, but could come later.

The connectivity is provided by OnAir, and in turn by satellite company Inmarsat thanks to a very small dish mounted on the top of the aircraft and a connection to the Inmarsat-4 satellite. That should provide around half a MB of connectivity, along with the latency inevitably associated with geostationary satellite communications.

A few seconds latency shouldn't bother the BlackBerry addict who needs to express an opinion on a received email immediately or find themselves belittled by their peers for being a slowcoach. BA isn't saying how much flights are going to cost, or if the data connectivity will be bundled, but with no economy seats to bulk out the flight it's not going to be cheap. ®

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