Trend: In-flight WiFi slow to take off

In-flight WiFi is not exactly a major trend yet. In fact, you have to look hard to find it, with fewer than 1 percent of commercial aircraft offering the service to their passengers. One reason is that most passengers are deterred by the $9.95 per hour price of the Connexion by Boeing plan, a plan aggressively promoted by Boeing. The reason for the high per-hour price is that it costs the airlines a lot of money to offer the service. It takes about $500,000 to $600,000 to equip one plane with wireless technology, and the airline loses substantial revenue during the two-week installation period when the plane is grounded. What is more, since the equipment is rather heavy the aircraft consumes more fuel, which is a problem during a time of high fuel prices. Terry Wiseman, an expert on in-flight technology, told The New York Times that at the current projected rate of use--one-in-five passengers--it will be impossible for airlines to squeeze a profit out of on-board WiFi anytime soon.

For more on on-board WiFi:
- see Christopher Elliott's New York Times report
- and Glenn Fleishman's analysis

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