JetBlue Airways, in partnership with Yahoo and Research in Motion, will debut an on-board wireless network that lets passengers access e-mail and instant messaging during flights.
The JetBlue system is scheduled to make its debut Tuesday on Flight 641 from New York to San Francisco. The aircraft, an Airbus A320, is specially designated "BetaBlue" as it is used to test new entertainment services offered through JetBlue's subsidiary, LiveTV.
JetBlue will be using a wireless spectrum that LiveTV bought from the Federal Communications Commission last year for $7 million. Because Internet access will use Wi-Fi and not cellular signals, the company said, it does not violate federal regulations.
Services will be available only on Wi-Fi laptops, Blackberry 8820, and Curve 8320. Due to bandwidth constraints, general Web browsing and attachments in mails will not be allowed. Access over VPNs and secure e-mail are also not available.
Nevertheless, JetBlue will be the first domestic air carrier to make any kind of wireless service accessible in air. There are plans for several other carriers to introduce these services next year.
JetBlue, Yahoo Launch In-Flight Wi-Fi (WebProNews)
Airlines in the U.S. to test in-flight Internet service (Monsters and Critics)