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Operating Systems

Blogging at 37,000 feet

In his latest installment of Fully Equipped, columnist David Carnoy goes airborne to talk about using American Airlines' Gogo Wi-Fi service.

The author in seat 31C. John Falcone

A few weeks ago Marguerite Reardon wrote about how American Airlines was starting to offer a new inflight WiFi service called Gogo. Well, I'm on my way to CNET's San Francisco office and was worried that with 5 hours on a plane I would fall behind on my blogging. But lo and behold about 20 minutes after we got off the ground a Gogo representative came down the aisle and handed me a pamphlet telling me how easy it was to get online. I just couldn't resist, so here I am blogging at 37,000 feet.

I gotta say, the speed is pretty impressive. Speakeasy's speed test clocked in at a 2,592 kpbs download speed and a 279 kbps upload speed. CNET's bandwidth meter pegged me at 1,122 kbps on the download side.

That said, when I tried to watch a little Hulu, the video got a bit choppy in spots, much like the flight that I'm on. The other downside is that the Wi-Fi appears to be having a serious impact on my battery life. It's draining rather quickly, which is partially why I'm going to keep this post short. Obviously, the next thing American--and other airlines--need to do is to make more power connections available to fliers. Also, it'd be good if the airlines would enable voice over IP services like Skype--apparently they are restricting its use along with cell phone use in flight (I will try to test Skype on my way back to New York see if that statement is accurate).

Still, having Wi-Fi on board, even if it does cost $12.95 for the flight, is a step in the right direction and makes the skies a lot friendlier for bloggers--and any sort of business professional who's feeding the machine 24-7. On the other hand, Gogo and other services like it leave you with one less cherished place to be off the grid.

Final note: I did notice that I'm posting this on 9/11 and I was going to say something about how this technology would--or wouldn't have--changed anything that day. But it's probably not worth going there.

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