Wi-Fi on US Air Flights –

inflightspeedtest.JPGOK, I have a presentation to finalize for at StreamingMedia East, but my US Air flight bound for LaGuardia offered a free trial of inflight Wi-Fi (via Gogo, a service of Aircell), so how could I resist (particularly with the Players Championship coming to a close, and the Celts playing the Cavs)? I haven’t been flying a lot recently, but it’s the first time I’ve been on a flight with Wi-Fi access.

To test the service, which would have cost $9.99 for this 70 minute flight, of which I could browse for about 50 minutes, I took four bandwidth readings from www.speedtest.net. The first, which I took as soon as I could boot my computer, was pretty decent; 1.24 mbps download, .26 mbps (or 260 kbps) upload. Wouldn’t want to try a web conference at these speeds, but ESPN was pretty snappy (and my boy Phil well out of it, though Boston is hanging in). Note that Speed Test reported that the server was in Wichita Kansas in all cases.

The second reading, about ten minutes later, was down a significant notch on the download side to .55 mbps, but upload speed boosted to 310 kbps.

My third test, another ten minutes later, scored 640 kbps download, 300 kbps upload. The last test, just before the flight attendent threatened to rip the computer from my hands on approach to New York, was a streaming 1.8 mpbs download, 300 kbps upload. 

To put all this in perspective, if you’re older than 25, your first connection to the Internet was “enjoyed” at about 24 kbps. The verdict? I get more work done without connectivity sometimes, but for most basic needs, the new service is a real winner. As I sign off, the Celts are up by 6 with 9:48 to go – here’s hoping they can hang on.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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