Technology as a way of life

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Are you sick of in-flight movies and magazines? Don’t worry because Virgin America is now offering wireless Internet on select flights. So you can now Bittorrent, play World of Warcraft and even email at 35,000 feet. Of course it’s going to cost you and be prepared to pay an extra $10 for flights less than 3 hours and $13 for longer flights.

The wireless service is run off of a shared EV-DO Rev and a connection, is provided under Aircell’s Gogo service and passengers connect with their laptop’s 802.11a/b/g cards to an open access point. The maximum advertised speed is 3.6 megabits per second down and 1.8 megabits/sec up. So far Virgin America isn’t filtering any traffic, but the company is using some traffic shaping to throttle down prolific users. Travelers still have to comply with the takeoff and landing rules of shutting off all electronics while at lower altitudes.

In a press event held on November 22, a select group of journalists flew in a Wi-Fi-enabled plane. Ryan Block, the former editor of Engadget, posted up screenshots of his transfer rate (916 kbps down/225 kbps up) and said the latency was around 200 to 500 milliseconds. He also tried out Bittorrent and managed to connect to eight peers.

Virgin America will test the Gogo service on a single Airbus A320, but will eventually expand the service to its entire fleet by April. Other airlines like American Airlines, Air Canada and Delta are either using Gogo or have plans to install the service. Southwest and Alaska Airlines will also install Wi-Fi, but will use Row 44 instead of GoGo.

Source - Engadget


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