9:18 PM

Relief Coming
for Email Addicts


We've all seen them at most any large airport in the country...email addicts who can't function without a continual dose of inbox heroin. They plunder their way through the crowd hypnotized, face buried in their gizmo, thumbs typing away feverishly on their QWERTY keyboard. As we sip our latte and watch them, we often ask ourselves what emails could possibly be so important that these people can't just chill out once in a while.

Then, as we board the airliner, we see them increase their thumb-pecking, racing against the Flight Attendant to get those last little bytes uploaded before she closes the cabin door, which nowadays is the official time to shut off all devices that can transmit outbound.

The airlines have always told us to stop transmitting because somehow the gadgets we hold would interfere with the safe completion of the flight. But that is changing these days, and soon, the email addicts who fly Jetblue will be able to keep feeding that addiction en route. so says this yahoo news story:

JetBlue Airways Corp. will start offering limited e-mail and instant messaging services for free on one of its planes next week as airlines renew efforts to offer in-flight Internet access. General Web surfing and e-mail attachments won't be permitted because of bandwidth constraints, and services on laptops and handhelds with Wi-Fi wireless access will be limited to e-mail and messaging from Yahoo Inc. Passengers can check other personal and work e-mail — but only on two BlackBerry models that have Wi-Fi wireless capabilities, under a deal with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd.
Now on the surface, it is easy to poke fun at those lost souls who can't live without their email for a couple of hours. And with the limitation of email and messaging only from yahoo.com aboard "Betablue" – a.k.a. JetBlue flight 641 from New York to San Francisco – it seems like this service would only appeal to a handful of passsengers. What the major U.S. carriers need to do is follow my lead by providing a service similar to what is available aboard the mythical Air Dano jumbo jets:
On Air Dano, every seat is a first class seat. You can leave that tiny email gizmo in the overhead too, because each seat is equipped with a work station featuring a Macbook Pro, a fax machine, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and free, unlimited high-speed access to each and every one of the Internets. Unlike the pathetic old school phone that is still implanted into the back of some American and United seatbacks, Air Dano passengers stare at a 21" LCD high definition display that serves up either the signal from the Mac or a lengthy list of free satellite tv stations and first-run movies. Cell phones would still be taboo, however. And for those few remaining misguided individuals who must torment themselves while trying to run Vista, one seat in coach will have a Windows machine attempting to log on the system without crashing.
The yahoo.com news story explains that JetBlue will be using a wireless spectrum that was purchased from the Federal Communications Commission last year for $7 million. The JetBlue Internet access will use Wi-Fi and not cellular signals, so apparently it does not violate federal regulations.

This, my flying friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the first baby steps towards the day we all know is coming, when Wi-Fi and Wi-Max Internet access will not only be available for free aboard airliners, but also in just about every square inch of this country.

In my mind, this whole Internet thing won't be complete until you can get online anytime from anywhere from anything you hold in your hands. Call it blue sky dreaming, but I KNOW this day is coming, when hunting down a "hot spot" in Midtown will be one of those "back in the day" stories you tell your grandkids.

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