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Canada to get in-flight Wi-Fi in mid-2011

updated 06:15 pm EST, Thu December 23, 2010

Canadian in-flight Wi-Fi delayed to

Canadians will get in-flight Wi-Fi access on national flights sometime in the middle of next year, which is a delay from late 2010, as originally intended. SkySurf Canada Communications has the license for in-flight data technology in Canada, and has been working with Air Canada on testing the in-air networking. Plans are moving forward on the venture, SkySurf's president Raed Almasri, SkySurf's president said.

SkySurf will partner with Aircell, which provides the in-flight Wi-Fi service Gogo in the US. The Canadian company said it will use current cellphone towers to send out the Wi-Fi connections. Airplanes will thus need to fly over ground with cellular towers, which will send information up to the plane. In Canada, it would be more likely to use HSPA-based 3G since all major carriers have switched away from the EVDO used on American aircraft.

Almasri says SkySurf will start offering the service on a regional network over high-density traffic, putting out the Windsor to Quebec City route as an example. Another route would include the Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton loop before expanding further.

Canada's demographics and geography pose a challenge to the undertaking, however, as most people -- and therefore cell towers -- are near the US border.
During the pilot project, two Air Canada aircraft were equipped with the technology on the Montreal, Toronto and Los Angeles routes. Passengers paid $10 per flight to access data on their notebook and $8 per flight for smartphones.

SkySurf plans on entering a reciprocal roaming arrangement with Aircell that would have the passengers flying over Canada capable of using the SkySurf network and vice versa. [via TheGlobeandMail]

By Electronista Staff
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