updated 03:45 pm EST, Thu December 6, 2007
RIM Free Wi-Fi on JetBlue
BlackBerry creator Research in Motion this afternoon announced a partnership with Yahoo to offer free Wi-Fi on JetBlue flights. The deal will provide custom Yahoo IM and mail services on both RIM's smartphones as well as on notebook PCs and will allow any device to use the service for general Internet access, including the BlackBerry's 'push' e-mail feature. Using the service will be free with a JetBlue ticket for a supporting flight; the first airplanes to deploy the short-range wireless in their cabins will run commercial flights from December 11th in trials with a full launch in several months if succesful, the airline says.
The near-term release signals an acceleration of a return to in-flight Wi-Fi, which appeared to have shut down with the end of Boeing's Connexion service. Both Germany's Lufthansa and the new Virgin America have pledged to bring back wireless Internet aboard their flights but have not scheduled releases earlier than 2008. The technology involved in the JetBlue version has not been revealed but may be a variant of AirCell technology that reduces the price per passenger to as little as $10 per day, allowing JetBlue and others to bundle the cost of wireless into the ticket price.