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Airline Wi-Fi Goes Mainstream

Aircell's Gogo, an airline Wi-Fi service, is about to go mainstream this summer and the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg gives it a good review. Why aren't I more enthusiastic?

As Mossberg notes, people are about to become more productive on airplanes or lose their last refuge from the digital deluge.

For me it's the latter. Sure, I'll use Gogo every time I fly. I'll also think less, blog more and never get through my reading list. I'll never escape those streaming real-time stock quotes. As for catching up on emailâ€"the only time I actually really read it is on a planeâ€"forget that too. Gogo will start off on American and Virgin America this summer. Other airlinesâ€"trying to scrape every penny of revenue they can to offset fuel costsâ€"will likely follow.

But there was something niceâ€"actually one of the few things nice about flying these daysâ€"about being disconnected. Gogo isn't the first in-flight Wi-Fi service, but it sounds like it might be the one that goes mainstream. Gogo will run you a flat fee of $12.95 for flights three hours or longer and $9.95 for shorter trips. The speed is similar to what you'd get on your wireless card.

Aircell is using cell towers to beam signals up where they are picked up by the airplane's antenna.

Overall, Gogo sounds like a fine service. I'm just a tad conflicted about it.

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.
Credit: ZDNet