Earlier this month we saw JetBlue and AirCell
snap up the 1MHz swath of spectrum required for Verizon's Airfone service to operate over US territories, so it shouldn't really come as any surprise to anyone that the 140 person Verizon subsidiary is shutting down commercial airline phone service this year. It's goin to be a lot of work ripping those godawful ugly and rarely used seat-back phones from from 1,000+ Continental, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways jetliners nation wide, but lose not all hope until 2010; Airfone will apparently still continue overpriced in-flight calling service in the other 3,400 corporate and government planes they operate out of (which are all typically far smaller vessels, of course, unless you're talking about Air Force One). Still, it is a little disappointing that a wireless phone company with a 21 year track record in the market is going to be shuttered because the FCC sold their license in a bid to some other, more well-heeled companies; guess that's the way you play the game though, eh? And really, while we mourn the loss of any company, we won't mourn the loss of thse damned phones, nor will we be sorry about not having to wait any longer than necessary to get our in-flight internet access on.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.