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JetBlue Launches Satellite-Based Inflight Wi-Fi 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the catching-up-on-news-up-here-alone dept.
First time accepted submitter spineas writes "JetBlue is rolling out a new form of inflight Wi-Fi operating from satellites instead of ground-based cell towers. Up to eight times faster than traditional inflight Wi-Fi, it will enable users to stream video whilst in the air, something that is nearly impossible to do with current dial-up speed access in aircraft."
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JetBlue Launches Satellite-Based Inflight Wi-Fi

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I connected to a Slingbox over a VPN after doing a Facetime conversation with my parents via GoGo. It's plenty fast enough for video.

  • Sure perhaps a few people can stream video over this connection, but I really doubt one satellite link would hold up to even ten people using Netflix...

    • by tomhath (637240)
      At $9 per hour for streaming I doubt they'll overload the link. And for that price they can add more bandwidth if needed.
      • by Albanach (527650)

        Frankly if there are hotels charging up to $17.95 per day [starwoodhotels.com] for wifi in a fixed location this is really a perfect example for Louis CK [youtube.com]. $9 an hour for high speed internet, while 'flying through the air like a bird' is a bargain.

    • Re:How many? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tiek00n (1932558) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:19PM (#45676751)
      Full disclosure: I work for the company that JetBlue is partnered with to provide the satellite link, and I work on this project specifically.

      There was a media flight yesterday morning that had a bunch of aviation press on it, all trying to push the system to its limits. Here's what one blogger [jaunted.com] had to say: "Speedtests proved that the WiFi remained fast, registering between 12-28 Mbps, even with over 60 devices connected and pushing activities like Netflix Instant, Google Video Hangouts, Ustream live streaming, and Skype calls." Engadget [engadget.com] also has more details about the media flight.

      There are obviously a lot of posts about the service, but out of the ~10 that I read those had the most details about Wednesday morning's actual flight.
      • by kmahan (80459)

        What kind of latency numbers do you get?

        • Re:How many? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Tiek00n (1932558) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:57AM (#45677591)
          I think I've seen sub 600ms, but on the order of 800ms may be more typical? Maybe around a second? I was on flights a few months back so I don't remember the numbers offhand. Coming from a cable connection at home I expected to find the lag to be a bit more bothersome than it was, but that could be a function of my activities (with video/audio streaming, the delay doesn't matter as much). Geo satellites are 22,000 mi up, so that's 500+ms of travel time. Which actually makes 600ms seem less realistic, so maybe that wasn't a real number. Sorry for a rambling response that doesn't really answer the question.
          • by dhaen (892570)
            Latency will be affected by the return channel path (satellite or ground) and to a lesser extent, how far from the equator the flight path is.
          • First, thanks for sharing the technical details. You're among friends.

            Second, I see this level of latency as a feature, not a bug. Much below 250ms and you'll have VoIP. At this level, email sync, file transfers (music and video) work fine, but RTC won't.

            This is EXACTLY what I want on a flight. Either the ability to watch streaming movies & listen to music with my headphones on, or talk quietly to a neighbor while doing work on the laptop and NOT hearing everyone else have phone calls.

        • by stonebit (2776195)
          Earth to Sat is about 100ms. Round trip (plane to sat to earth dish to server to dish to sat to plane) with internet and server latency adds up to about 500-600ms. Communications are half that (time for your data to get to your friend), which is not bad since 200ms is when humans start to notice delay. No gaming, but websites and streaming will be fine.
      • Well I have to admit that's a lot more data than any normal flight would ever see. So I fully retract my statement and also offer congratulations on what seems to be a pretty excellent system!

        I'm sure the latency is not that great as others asked about, but really that will not matter a lot to most people. Plenty good enough for browsing and video use.

  • Streaming video over in-flight WiFi? So this means I shouldn't check my notebook [youtube.com]?
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Streaming video over in-flight WiFi? So this means I shouldn't check my notebook [youtube.com]?

      Airlines tell you to never check anything valuable or fragile.

      If you need any more convincing, just talk to a baggage handler :).

      But seriously, I've used WiFi on two airlines, on QANTAS it was barely usable but the number of page timeouts were so frustrating I ended up watching videos. On Southwest it was utterly useless, not even a single page loaded. JetBlue will be the same or worse.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Streaming video over in-flight WiFi? So this means I shouldn't check my notebook [youtube.com]?

      Sadly more and more people refuse to check any bags, leading to flights over boarding first, massive problems in the overhead bins, high stress, and delayed flights.

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        Streaming video over in-flight WiFi? So this means I shouldn't check my notebook [youtube.com]?

        Sadly more and more people refuse to pay to check any bags, leading to flights over boarding first, massive problems in the overhead bins, high stress, and delayed flights.

        seriously, a total ripoff. i'm surprised they don't start charging for overhead luggage space. although if you bring your stuff to the gate and there's no baggage bin room, they usually gate check it for free.

        • by Tiek00n (1932558)
          There are airlines that charge you for each carry-on that you have. I know Spirit Airlines does this, and I've heard that there are others but I'm not sure which.
          • by ncc74656 (45571) *

            There are airlines that charge you for each carry-on that you have. I know Spirit Airlines does this

            Frontier does this for some passengers, though I think there are still ways to avoid the fee that don't involve paying more for your seat.

            On a recent flight, I overheard that Spirit had bought Frontier. Tried googling it just now...turns out that Frontier was purchased by a private-equity firm headed up by a former chairman at Spirit [foxbusiness.com]. Given that my first (and last) experience with Spirit was total suckage

        • by isorox (205688)

          Streaming video over in-flight WiFi? So this means I shouldn't check my notebook [youtube.com]?

          Sadly more and more people refuse to pay to check any bags, leading to flights over boarding first, massive problems in the overhead bins, high stress, and delayed flights.

          seriously, a total ripoff. i'm surprised they don't start charging for overhead luggage space. although if you bring your stuff to the gate and there's no baggage bin room, they usually gate check it for free.

          The airlines I fly allow you to check for free. Doesn't help. I'd be delighted if they charged for overhead space, or just make a charge for any "hand luggage" with wheels. If you're too lazy to carry your essentials, you should be forced to check them.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        Sadly more and more people refuse to check any bags, leading to flights over boarding first, massive problems in the overhead bins, high stress, and delayed flights.

        It's the airlines' fault for hidden charges for checked bags, and so it's only right that they reap the fallout.

        Personally, I wish airlines would do away with their checked baggage fees. Besides the obvious, I'd also like to be able to take more than 10oz of hair gel, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc., when I travel. Not to mention a pock

  • Congratulations! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:25PM (#45676455)

    Now they can join american, united, lufhansa, and all the other carriers that have sat based wifi.

    • by black3d (1648913)

      Yeah, my thoughts entirely. Was a little surprised this was making "news" since I've been using sat-based wifi whilst flying over the Pacific for a few years now on several carriers.

    • Let me know when they offer free wifi. Jetblue is offering free wifi with a video streaming upgrade for $9 per month (to use satellite internet).

      • I think you misread that.

        First, during the trial period, it's free. There is no comment as to how much it will cost after June 2014. Second, it's $9 per hour. So $18 to watch, say, a two hour movie. A bit pricey, methinks.

        • by swillden (191260)

          I think you misread that.

          First, during the trial period, it's free. There is no comment as to how much it will cost after June 2014. Second, it's $9 per hour. So $18 to watch, say, a two hour movie. A bit pricey, methinks.

          Sounds good to me. It just means that the only people who use it will be business travelers whose companies are paying. I'll actually be able to get some work done.

        • Re:Congratulations! (Score:5, Informative)

          by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:04AM (#45677329)

          Nope, the basic service is actually free. The streaming plan initially free but will be charged at 9/hr later. Here is their pamplet [imgur.com] and a news source [consumerist.com] talking about this

    • by espiesp (1251084)

      GoGo in-flight wifi is cell based, not sat based, unless something has changed in the past week.

  • by bob_super (3391281) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:39PM (#45676541)

    I can't even get my laptop to connect from the corner of the garden. That's some serious WiFi power!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    streamed free NFL Channel on Southwest many many months ago. And my daughter streamed cartoons from the same service. Both with minimal buffering at the onset and youtube quality video.

  • Speed Test 20 Mb/s (Score:5, Informative)

    by Poisonous Drool (526798) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:23PM (#45676769)
    My friend did a speed test on JetBlue today and got 20 Mb/s. He isn't very technical so I assume he did the test on his iPhone or iPad. He said there was over 100 devices connected on his flight. He's a JB pilot but was in the back on this flight. He said the service is free until April. Take it for what it is worth.
  • I find the transportation icon for this article's category to be ridiculous. The internet IS NOT A TRUCK!
  • But the last time I paid for wifi in flight (one of the gogo services on Delta, IIRC) it was way faster than dial-up speed. I was easily able to check email, read the news, search for research papers, and download relevant items during my previous 2.5 hour flight. If it were at dial-up speed I would not have been able to even finish downloading the first of several papers that I found during that flight.
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      It's a modified 3G CDMA connection with a Qualcomm modified chipset allowing for up to a 2K doppler shift in frequency handling. It's distributed via multiple APs on the aircraft and when you're close to a tower, you get reasonable speed. If there's a lot of people using it or your near the fringe distance away from the tower you'll see higher latency which is natural with 3G CDMA. If you're over the Nevada desert or the Rocky Mountains, you'll get sucky performance. We were the first to work with AirCe

  • by storkus (179708) on Friday December 13, 2013 @06:57AM (#45678817)

    http://www.viasat.com/news/high-speed-internet-now-flying-jetblue-launches-service-using-viasat-high-capacity-ka-band-broadband [viasat.com]

    I remember reading this a year ago or so when the home service launched, but I guess /. missed it. This kind of portable/mobile use is being heavily marketed for homeland security, SNG (Satellite News Gathering), and other high-end markets, while they continue to give the middle finger to RVers, truckers, etc--I guess the home system is locked to the spotbeam its activated on so you can't roam outside it, unlike HughesNet. Personally, I'd love their little portable flyaway system, but at a price of $20k or so, oh well.

  • I just flew 2 days ago on SouthWest and watched NFL and Discovery Channel the whole way via Wifi with my iPad (3rd gen). No glitches, ran fine. They utilize DishTV receivers I believe and you have about 15-20 channels to chose live broadcast from. You can pay for internet, but seriously, there's nothing so pressing on the Internet I can't wait 2 hours to access (for free at the airport).
  • Yes, it has impressive speed. The unfortunate thing is that it's laggy. That's inherent to satellite internet. Very poor ping times are a result of the signal traveling to the satellite and back. Big downloads and streaming usually works well, but website surfing can be annoying because the browser has to wait after it requests to download every element for the data to be transferred. This can be made much less noticeable by pre-fetching some of the content before the last element is downloaded and by ca

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