Monday, June 05, 2006

VoIP the Sky is the limit!

Forget mobile phones for air travel, the United States Federal Communications Commission has just completed an auction of airspace airwaves which will see wireless internet made available on US flights.

Two pieces of mile high spectrum were offered up by the FCC, one band at 1MHz and another at 3MHz. The incumbent licensor of the frequency, and operator of the US Airfone service, Verizon declined to bid through to the end of the drawn out auction process and will subsequently have to give up its control over the airwaves on airlines.

The new licensees are expected to offer in-flight phone calling, Internet access and entertainment services based on IP technology, which will lead the way open for VoIP calls from aircraft.

A subsidiary of JetBlue Airways called LiveTV secured the 1MHz spectrum, while a company called AirCell secured the larger 3MHz band.

While JetBlue paid US$7 million for its piece of spectrum, AirCell paid more than US$31 million for its licence according to Internet reports.

It won’t be the first time Internet has been offered on passenger jets, Boeing has its own in-flight broadband on international flights which it makes available to other airlines. That system uses satellite links rather than the air-to-ground links up for auction in the US.

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