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8/21/2008
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American Airlines Launches In-Flight Internet Service

Fliers will be able to connect to the Web, e-mail, and corporate VPNs once they reach 10,000 feet.

American Airlines has announced mobile broadband service on its Boeing 767-200 aircraft for nonstop New York flights to and from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami.

The company launched the service, Gogo, on Wednesday. Aircell, which obtained an exclusive frequency license from the Federal Communications Commission, will provide Wi-Fi in all cabins.

"We are pleased to provide our customers with the unprecedented ability to stay connected to their family, friends, and business associates on the ground via the Internet while traveling at 30,000 feet above the United States," Dan Garton, American Airlines' executive VP of marketing, said in a statement.

Garton said that American has made "history as the first and only U.S. airline to offer full in-flight Internet."

The service costs $12.95 on flights longer than three hours (we tried it out) and includes full Internet access. It does not include voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or cell phone service.

Travelers can turn on Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including laptops, smartphones, and PDAs once their planes reach 10,000 feet. A Gogo portal page -- powered by the Aircell air-to-ground (ATG) Broadband System and delivered by Aircell's nationwide network -- allows passengers to surf the Web, check e-mail, send instant messages (see our in-flight video IM picture), and access corporate VPNs.

"Today, U.S. air travel changes forever," Jack Blumenstein, president and CEO of Aircell, said in the announcement.

"With Aircell's unique ATG inflight Internet service, airlines finally have an economically viable option for providing the broadband connectivity passengers are demanding,'' Blumenstein said. "American Airlines is the first to bring inflight Internet to market, and today the days of being cut off from the rest of the world while in the air become history."

UPDATE: To read first-hand accounts of American Airline's Internet service in action, see Fritz Nelson's blog and David Berlind's blog.

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