As most people travelling for business you have a desire be to connected as much as possible in this day and age. One place where many are disconnected from the world, and actually refreshing for some, is on aircraft above the skies. Having some down time from the busy schedule of conference calls has kinda been one of the benefits of the jet setting business person.
I just noticed this interesting article link over on John Gormly blog about the comparison of all the current in-flight Wi-Fi solutions on the airplane carriers based in the United States.
Kevin Hall also supplied a nice eye-chart with some of the details:
My interest in learning more was peaked, so I started to dig deeper into the world of in-flight internet connectivity..
Aircell Gogo Services
When I checked the actual Gogo site I noticed some additional new information. In addition to the airlines listed above GoGo also has signed recent contracts with:
The pricing also has a $5.95 for a 1.5 hour flight, $12.95 for a 24 hour pass, and a $49.95 for a 30 day pass.
On the Aircell website it states it has the Gogo service now available on over 500 aircraft.
Southwest has 4 planes currently in a trial. It appears federal approval of the technology was just granted on August 6th, 2009. This will put the pressure on Aircell’s Gogo service in North America.
Due to this satellite based service letting the airline set their own pricing to consumers it will be up to the airlines to figure out if they are offer the services for free or a price structure for it. Of course most would like to see free in-flight Wi-Fi service like we are seeing more and more of on the ground. Time will tell if competition in this area will increase the push for the airlines to make their connectivity services a new highlight to differentiate themselves. I think it will over time. :-)
VoIP and Cell Phones
Even though most airlines state currently no VoIP support (the vendors can support it, so it’s up to the airline carriers), they all state that most VPN connections are supported. So that begs the test to see if you could use VoIP over VPN on the various airlines. Or perhaps use different TCP/IP ports to enable the VoIP usage depending on the solution being used.
On the Flightglobal site has recently several examples of folks using video conferencing and VoIP. Be sure to check out their “channel” devoted to IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) & Connectivity here. Mary Kirby’s Runway Girl blog also provides an interesting view into the industry.
Now with all of these airlines installing the various vendor equipment to provide in-flight Internet connectivity, where do folks get power for their laptops, phones or other devices? Enabling Wi-Fi is currently not the most efficient way to save battery power on most devices today for your consumable batteries.
As I posted previously, the excellent site called SeatGuru can assist you to book and select the correct seats on any airline. You pick the airline and then the aircraft type. Seats with power outlets are marked with little black dots. Also see the mobile site if you forgot to check beforehand and will try to barter and swap seats with someone on the plane. :-) For additional detail and other tips see their Ultimate Guide to In-Seat Laptop Power Ports.
Features for the Airlines
Another thing that I believe should be mentioned is that these in-flight systems also bring a list of various operational benefits to the airline carrier. Most bring online real-time weather forecasts, and LiveTV has for example Cabin Surveillance options.
In other parts of the world other firms have taken up the in-flight mobile connectivity wave as well. But instead of offering Wi-Fi its more about general mobility connectivity. AeroMobile serves Emirates Airline, Malaysian Airlines and australian Qantas and V Australia. AeroMobile provides GSM voice and text messaging in-flight together with GPRS data services.
OnAir provides a simular GSM based service to a list of more than 10 global and regional airlines. Including Air France, popular low cost european RyanAir, British Airways, British Midland, indian Kingfisher Airlines, brazilian TAM Airlines and TAP Portugal, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways and Oman Air. Most being deployed in 2009. OnAir is partly owned by european aircraft manufacturer Airbus. OnAir uses Inmarsat’s geo-stationary satellites to-and-from the networks on the ground, as does the AirCell’s Gogo service.
OnAir also provides a nifty interactive page explaining the equipment usage, location and weight used in their solution. For more such information you can also see some WESA (World Airline Entertainment Association) presentations Mary Kirby has gratuitously posted here.
German Lufthansa is supposedly close to re-signing a new deal using the Ku-band services that is previously used with Boeing’s failed Connexion service. Rumored to be in talks with Panasonic.
Boeing is the grandfather of international in-flight connections back in 2001, but failed to get it off the ground after 9/11 and shutdown their consumer services in 2006.
Does it Work?
Some other references to actual experiences with using Wi-Fi on US airplanes:
Video conferencing and VoIP working on American airlines Gogo equipt aircraft:
Very interesting events unfolding in the Microsoft landscape these days with the recent announcement of the Nokia and Microsoft Global Alliance. A bold move for both parties, but perhaps the first of many such agreements as the mobile landscape continues to be draw lines in the sand and partners for each platform so the strongest will survive. Of all the other mobile platforms, especially in North America, Nokia probably gives Microsoft the least heartache and your enemy’s enemy is your friend as they say. :-)
Details as posted on the Microsoft PressPass website and the LiveMeeting slides and teleconference:
“This announcement builds on the existing work Nokia is doing by optimizing access to e-mail and other personal information with Exchange ActiveSync. Next year, Nokia intends to start shipping Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphones, followed by other Office applications and related software and services in the future. These will include:
• The ability to view, edit, create and share Office documents on more devices in more places with mobile-optimized versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft OneNote
• Enterprise instant messaging and presence, and optimized conferencing and collaboration experience with Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile
• Mobile access to intranet and extranet portals built on Microsoft SharePoint Server
• Enterprise device management with Microsoft System Center”
So looking at/hearing the details and making some personal comments:
- Renewal of the the Nokia license of Exchange ActiveSync in their products (perhaps in conjunction with Exchange 2010 on the horizon, or just a timing coincidence?).
- Office Communicator Mobile client in 2010 (the only one mentioned with a specific timeframe and perhaps the easiest to port?).
- Office Mobile on Nokia devices, starting with the E-series and then others. (Office Mobile 2010 was stated to be released after the release of Windows Mobile 6.5)
- With a new version of SCCM coming up soon and with the merger of SCMDM, perhaps Nokia/Symbian support will be embedded at RTM or shortly thereafter?
I can’t help to think what the Microsoft Windows Mobile teams think of this new alliance and how it will perhaps dilute their value prop they current have with integration with the other Microsoft product teams. Or I suppose it could make them stronger for the future Windows Mobile 7 release as they need to stand up to the mobile platform competition on their own merits..
Also as the new S60 platform replacement is released by the recently revamped Symbian Foundation, Symbian^2 and it’s follow-ups, Symbian^3 and Symbian^4. I wonder how this could perhaps tie in with Nokia’s new alliance with Microsoft and create the timing for Office Mobile on other devices after the E-series support..
Time will tell if this will benefit the two new alliance partners, but I think most Enterprise customers would only be delighted to see more market co-operation in these days of the all out mobile-platform wars and all the confusion it brings to continue to keep ROI and TCO numbers down..
Looks like the results of a fairly small survey, but kinda interesting non-the-less. Philippe Winthrop stresses that Apple still needs to make it possible to run a Mobile Device Management agent in the background on the devices. Also shows that companies are seeing more slightly more productivity gains on the iPhones. And that the struggle to develop mobility policies and strategy are the same across the board with or without iPhones. :-)
Please see more details here.
InfoWorld Magazine has published an interesting “Deep Dive” 28 page report on various iPhone topics for the Enterprise. For some it may not really detail much new, but I think shows a fairly decent overview of the current status and aspects to take into consideration.
You can fill out the form here and get e-mailed a link to download the PDF here: http://www.infoworld.com/iphone-deep-dive
- How to Manage an iPhone
- iPhone OS 3.0 is Better, but..
- 8 Easy Steps to iPhone Security
- Development Tools
- Palm Pre versus iPhone
- BlackBerry versus iPhone 3.0
The report also references these older previously published slide decks that could be handy on their own:
Best iPhone apps: Office and personal productivity (Jan 5, 2009)
Best iPhone apps: SFA, CRM, and BI (Jan 5, 2009)
Best iPhone apps: Communication and collaboration (Jan 5, 2009)
InfoWorld's 10 commandments of iPhone etiquette (Oct 22, 2008)
21 apps Apple doesn't want on your iPhone (Apr 13, 2009)
Mobile deathmatch rematch: BlackBerry vs. iPhone 3.0, side by side (Jul 3, 2009)
Mobile deathmatch: Palm Pre vs. iPhone, side by side (Jul 6, 2009)