Wireless Infrastructure

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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone Top Device For In-Flight Browsing

Apple iPhone makes up nearly two-thirds of all devices accessing Gogo's airborne Wi-Fi Internet service.

Gogo offers in-flight Wi-Fi to a growing number of airlines around the country. The service provides basic Web access to mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones on a daily or monthly basis. For some, Internet access on a plane is a requirement, to others a nuisance. Whatever your personal feelings are, Gogo dove into its data and came up with some interesting factoids.

Of all the mobile devices being used to access Gogo's Wi-Fi services, 65% are iPhones. Throw in the iPod Touch, and iOS's share jumps to 80%.

Android users apparently aren't that interested in surfing the cloud from the clouds. A meager 12% of Gogo's Wi-Fi services are accessed by Android handsets. (What are they doing on the flight, sleeping, watching the movie?)

Worse, BlackBerrys (you know, the business user's smartphone) only represent 6% of Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi users. I guess that means some BlackBerry users aren't as interested in keeping in touch with the office while in the air as their iPhone-using colleagues are. Windows Phone 7, webOS, and others make up the pathetic remaining 2% of Gogo Wi-Fi users.

How does Gogo account for this seemingly unbalanced Wi-Fi use by iPhone users? Of all things, end-user savviness.

"Many smartphone users simply aren't aware that you can turn your phone service off on a Gogo equipped plane, yet still access the Internet through a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device and surf the Web, send email, and access most of the features of your smartphone aside from making a phone call," said Ash ElDifrawi, Gogo's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "It's clear that iPhone users are ahead of the curve in understanding those capabilities, but more and more people are starting to discover how to connect using their smartphone on a plane."

Generally, today's smartphones can be placed in "airplane mode." This turns off the cellular and GPS radios, but not other radios such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Those can still be used to, among other things, access Gogo's in-flight services.

If you get the shakes every time you contemplate disconnecting from the Internet for several hours while you hop a flight to Topeka, Gogo's service will keep you connected for a price.

There are two pricing tiers. The first applies mostly to laptops and similar devices. Rates are based on the time/distance traveled by the flight. For example, $4.95 buys Internet access for up to 1.5 hours and/or 650 miles. On a longer flight, $9.95 buys access for 1.5 to 3.0 hours and/or 650 to 1150 miles. Flying across the country, $12.95 buys access for flights ranging more than 3 hours and/or 1151 miles.

Prices for smartphones or similar devices are slightly less at $4.95 for up to 1.5 hours and/or 650 miles, and $7.95 for flights longer than 1.5 hours and/or 650 miles.

If you have to spend half the month in the air, Gogo offers an unlimited browsing plan that costs $39.95/month.

Gogo is available on select flights from air carriers including Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, United-Continental, U.S. Air, and Virgin America.

Gogo offers dedicated BlackBerry and iPhone applications to help with log-in and account management, and says that an Android application is on the way.

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