Battle for the Wi-Fi Skies

Budget airline JetBlue scored some buzz last month when it said it would begin offering free in-flight internet access, but one detail got less attention – because Yahoo and RIM are helping pay for it, travelers can only check email on Yahoo or if they have a BlackBerry.  In the coming months, American Airlines and Virgin Amewrica will roll out Wi-Fi enabled planes that they claim will have no such limitation – and three times the bandwidth.  The technology comes from Aircell, a Chicago outfit that captures signals from ground-based radio towers.  Earlier efforts used satellites and meant re-wiring plans, costed up to $1 million each; Aircell can now outfit plans for roughly $100k.

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