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Surfing the Web at 30 Thousand Feet

Boot Camp feature for Monday, January 14, 2008

Surfing the Web at 30 thousand feet. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It's been tried before….by Boeing with a satellite based service it called Connexion. It failed….but this year…Internet service in the sky returns. Aircell is using cellular towers around the country for a service that will be used by American Airlines and Virgin America….starting this year. Aircell CEO Jack Blumenstein…

"We looked at being able to take the latest technology that's being deployed by Verizon and Sprint for example in high speed data to your cell phone and use that as the link to run from literally a cell tower on the ground that's pointed up in the air, to planes flying by, and create a network of those towers just like you create a ground cellular network. And do that in a way that was extraordinarily less expensive than the satellite model, but also provided high speed bandwidth to the airplane, more than 3 megabits per second to the airplane."

One drawback to the technology…is that it because of those ground towers pointed up to the sky…..it can only work while flights are over land. So it won't work while you're on your way to Europe or Asia. Blumenstein anticipates there will be plenty of demand for the service…which may be priced at about 10 dollars a flight….

"It really does blow your mind to be sitting at 40 thousand feet and be operating on the Internet just the way you do when you're sitting in your office or your home or in a hotel or in a coffee shop."

Aircell's Jack Blumenstein. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.