Sunday, June 25, 2006

In-flight phones cut off?

The news that Verizon Airfone will end its in-flight phone service has been floating around for a couple of days now, and considering the new competing technologies it's not exactly unexpected. However more suprisingly the technology you might think would replace the seat-back phone isn't doing so well either, the rumour is that Boeing may be about to close down it's in-flight broadband service service.

I've used Boeing's in-flight wireless service a couple of times, but I've never used a Verizon Airfone, just reading the list of per minute charges made my skin crawl. Both services are rumoured to suffer from low customer uptake, and I think both services can lay that low uptake directly at the feet of their price plans.

When are people in the industry going to understand that these days data, and even voice, are considered commodities? Do a deal with the airline, provide wireless for "free" on long haul flights and roll the cost into the tickets where we won't notice it, because people aren't going to be prepared to pay for it directly.

Update: Slashdot have picked up the story, and in related news it seems that GNER is currently offering free on-board WiFi through till the end of July.