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The Internet Communications Networking Transportation Technology

The State of In-Flight Wi-Fi 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the cat-pictures-in-the-sky dept.
CowboyRobot writes "Byte magazine gives a run-down of the current state of Internet access on airplanes. 'All of the services function in basically the same way. They provide connectivity to the public Internet via a Wi-Fi hotspot accessible from the cabin of the aircraft. This in-cabin network may also be used to provide in-flight entertainment services ranging from television network feeds to movies and canned TV shows available from an on-board media server connected to the network. In the U.S., the Internet connectivity is available when the aircraft is above 10,000 feet and is turned off during take-offs and landings. Gogo, the current market leader, provides connectivity to aircraft via a network of 250 dedicated cell towers that it has built nationwide. Fundamentally, it offers the same type of connectivity you would expect to see on a standard 3G-capable phone. The connection is limited in speed to just over 3 Mbps — and all users on the plane share this one connection.'"
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The State of In-Flight Wi-Fi

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  • by GeneralSecretary (1959616) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:02PM (#42291387)
    GoGo is in the process of upgrading their networks. They are also working on switching from air-to-ground networks to satellite which will allow them to provide coverage over oceans. Newer planes are being built with WiFi in mind. Things are looking up.
  • Simple solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:15PM (#42291807)

    Just auction the bandwidth on the plane
    As long as the rate per minute per kbps you bid is > the available bandwidth, you get it. If somoene bids for $500/minute/1kbps and asks for all 3mbps, let them take it all!

  • interesting setup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by datapharmer (1099455) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:35PM (#42292393) Homepage
    The setup of these systems is actually rather interesting from a FOSS perspective. They appear to run a redhat derivative and squid and use some interesting tricks to control access to the network. I figure the squid is probably caching locally on the plane to lower the bandwidth consumption, but haven't really invetigated too far. The network routing is more interesting: If you hard code the DNS they will tamper with the route and either null route you or redirect to their sign-up page. But there are some exceptions, such as google for example: if you force https you can access google and related results just fine, but attempting to access gmail (even via mail.google.com) will result in a timeout even over https. You can also access a few sites for free such as amazon. Since you can hard-code the related IP addresses for google or amazon, it has been theorized that you could setup a proxy via google's servers or amazon's servers and get out that way by directing all lookups to that IP address from your hosts file or equivalent. When authenticating directly they appear to use ARP records to determine who is restricted and who isn't, so arp or mac spoofing would probably allow a non-paying customer to use a paying customer's credentials (albeit at the expense of probably making both connections pretty intolerable). The routing is most likely handled within the plane after a global sign-in is performed, but I haven't confirmed this.

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