Wi-SKY Inflight, Inc. in early April plans to conduct the third
proof of concept inflight tests of its WiMAX broadband inflight
air-to-ground communication system.
The system could be operational on selected flight paths by the
end of 2008, according to Grant Sharp, Wi-SKY Inflight President.
Pax Access Fee for Log-on Passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled laptop
computers would log on and pay an access fee as they would with
an onground Wi-Fi hot spot.
The WiMAX connection is distributed onboard via a Wi-Fi network.
Exact pricing of the service has not been determined, but Sharp
anticipates a fee of US$10 for flights longer than two hours and
less for shorter flights.
High-End Internet Features Wi-SKY Inflight will offer airline
passengers all Internet services, including “highend services”
such as video conferencing, video downloading, large data file
transfers, and Skype phone calls (if permitted in flight), Sharp
This is possible, he said, because WiMAX technology provides
greater throughput capability than previous wireless alternatives.
Network Build-out “WiMAX is 10 times more powerful than
a cellular signal,” Sharp said, “so approximately
300 towers would provide coverage to all aircraft flying throughout
the continental US.” Wi-SKY Inflight plans to build out
its WiMAX network to meet the specific route requirements of its
The network can be built quickly by placing the ground base-station
on the roof of a chain store with many outlets and “hooking
up” with the store’s T-3 connection. Another option
is to piggy-back onto the towers of a cellular carrier that doesn’t
plan to offer its services to the airline industry.
Onboard ‘Box,’ Antenna Onboard equipment will include
a radio and Wi-Fi board housed in a box about the size of a PC
case and weighing approximately 15 pounds, according to Sharp.
“The antenna will consist of four small finger-size fins
mounted on the fuselage of the plane.
Wiring will run from the external fin antennae to the system
box, and from the system box to the Wi-Fi access points throughout
the plane,” Sharp said. Wi-SKY Networks in March licensed
its proprietary patent-pending technology for WiMAX broadband
inflight communication to Wi-SKY Inflight, Inc.