AirCell Down But Not Out – Will Provide In-Flight ‘WiFi In The Sky’

AirCell logoAirCell isn’t ready to throw in the towel! Just when we thought it was curtains for AirCell and its ambitious goals to provide in-flight wireless service, there’s this new report from the Wall Street Journal that AirCell will be providing in-flight WiFi.

AirCell recently acquired over $30 million worth of radio frequency spectrum that it intended to use for broadcasting wireless calls, through its “pico-cell” antenna, to ground-based cell towers. That’s a hefty investment – capable of crippling any company if it fell through. And, when the FCC officially squashed our dreams of cell phone calls in airplanes, we expected AirCell and its $31.1 million of worthless spectrum to go down in flames.

Color this company resilient, as they’ve worked out a new way to use their precious slice of radio frequency pie. If AirCell isn’t going to be allowed to provide cell phone service for jet-setters, then they’ll do the next best thing – serve up some in-flight Internet connectivity. You won’t be able talk to your friends and family on a plane, but at least you can hit them up on MySpace and AIM! <shameless-plug> And, you’d definitely want to browse IntoMobile! </shamless-plug>

The idea’s already taken flight in Boeing’s Connexion service. But, much like Icarus’s wax wings, Boeing’s reliance on satellite transmission doomed the expensive ($30) service to plummet to a nasty demise.

But, AirCell’s got a whole new take on providing WiFi service in airplanes. The FCC and FAA have already approved AirCell’s plans to broadcast Internet service through 80 land-based towers, with their network build-out expected to hit 100 towers.

Aircell is in talks with carriers, but have yet to sign up any airlines to install their $100,000 equipment package. But to help market the idea, AirCell will reward carriers with revenue sharing in return for taking on the extra 100 pounds of AirCell equipment per plane.

Via: Wall Street Journal

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