Next time you board an airplane there could be more to look forward to than a movie and an in-flight meal as high speed net access takes to the air.
Trials of in-flight broadband took place last year on certain flights with Lufthansa and British Airways and proved popular with fliers.

Now the company behind the sky-high broadband, a subsidiary of Boeing called Connexion by Boeing, is set to roll out a full service.

It will begin on Lufthansa flights out of Germany at the end of the month.

Security implications

Connectivity in the air could alter the way we fly, allowing passengers to be in touch with the ground in a way they never have before.

"Keeping in touch becomes increasingly important for productivity as well as for the traveller's ability to maintain a healthy balance between work commitments and obligations to family, friends and community," said Scott Carson, Connexion by Boeing president when the company announced its plans at the beginning of the year.

It could also change the way in-flight attendants work, allowing passengers to choose and pay for duty-free online for example.

Following September 11 attacks in the US, airline security is of paramount importance.

A broadband connection could allow remotely controlled web cameras to be put on board so that hijack attempts can be monitored from the ground.

An internet connection could even allow passengers to book onward flights from the comfort of their seats.

The service will be charged at a rate of around £16 for long-haul flights, £11 for medium-haul flights and £8 for flights of less than three hours.
Boeing has leased capacity from satellites and ground stations in the US, Japan and Europe. These should provide coverage in all of these areas with plans to extend to routes to Australia, South America and South Africa in future.

Users of the service will need to bring their own wi-fi enabled laptop or PDA, although some airlines will also provide Ethernet connections.

Connexion by Boeing is hopeful that the service will prove popular.

"We are targeting business passengers on long-haul flights but that doesn't exclude kids who want to play games," said a spokesperson for Connexion by Boeing.

"Basically anyone with a wireless connected laptop can use it," she said.

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