Feb. 6th, 2012

sekiharatae: (Default)
I'm not an adventurous person, and I don't particularly like to travel.  However, since I'm writing about characters traveling from the US to Wales I'm having to learn things that other people already know.

For example, I'm absolutely stunned at what constitutes first-class travel on a commercial Emirates Airline or Oman Air flight.  It's like your own personal little travel pod!  Seriously, it's practically a cubicle with a pull-out in it.  However, I only discovered the first-class amenities because I was trying to find out about in-flight internet on trans-Atlantic flights.  Surely, I thought, in this day and age someone offers such a thing.

As it happens the answer is both yes... and yet also no.

Back in 2001 we were there.  Delta, American, United and Lufthansa all partnered with Boeing to develop Connexion, an in-flight internet service which was based on leased satellite service.  However, after 9/11, all but Lufthansa backed out of the agreement.  Boeing continued to offer the service to the European and Asian markets, but Connexion eventually shut down at the end of 2006 due to a lack of sufficient customers. 

Somewhat ironically, Row 44 -- a company formed in 2004 as a competitor to Connexion -- is still in operation.  Customers include Southwest Airlines, Alaska Air, and Norwegian Air Shuttle.  That's good news for customers who want a broad-band in-flight internet connection... but means nothing in terms of trans-oceanic flights as none of these airlines make them.  (i.e. These airlines could offer it... if only they flew from here to there.)

Then there is the satellite company Inmarsat.  Inmarsat offers a communications service called Swiftbroadband.  Other companies then bundle the service to provide internet on commercial flights -- kind of like very focused ISPs.  OnAir is one of the biggest of these, but there are others such as Panasonic's eXConnect and ARINC's Cabin Connect.  (Lufthansa actually uses Panasonic's eXConnect to provide internet using their original Connexion by Boeing equipment; the end product is called Flynet.)   In addition, Inmarsat is currently working -- in conjuction with Boeing, which again smacks of irony to me -- to build the next gen of Inmarsat satellites.  The three satellites together will comprise a new network dubbed Global Xpress.  Inmarsat has tapped both OnAir and GoGo/Aircell to distribute the service beginning in 2013.

So the technology is there, and has been for some time.  Since 2010 at least, even if you don't count Connexion in 2001.  What's holding things up today is that the airlines -- in direct contrast to the gung-ho attitude of 2001 -- are being slow to adopt it.  OnAir has a list of about 25 customers, but most are only using the service in a very limited capacity (British Airways, for example, only offers it on flights from London to JFK) or are for providers that primarily operate domestic and/or international flights outside the English-speaking world.  It's been especially big in the Middle East -- Oman Air's claim to fame is that it was the first airline to provide the service back in March of 2010, and Emirates' entire fleet is supposed to be using the service as of June of this year.

Which is all really impressive to know, but was a lot of work and techno-babble to wade through in order to determine that there really isn't an airline, right now, that offers in-flight internet access between the US and Cardiff.  Therefore, Kaoru will not be working during the flight, which was the sole reason I wanted to know if internet were available.  ~.~ 

I am SUCH a geeky nit-picker.

However, maybe someone else will need to know in the future, and now you won't have to hunt so much for the info.


sekiharatae: (Default)

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