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JetBlue introduces free in-flight email, IM

Evan Blass
12.06.07
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In a welcome first for domestic airlines, JetBlue will be rolling out free in-flight Yahoo IM and email services to passengers packing WiFi-equipped devices, starting aboard its new "BetaBlue" Airbus A320. Once this test-bed passenger jet reaches 10,000 feet, an in-plane network with three in-ceiling access points is activated, allowing most any wireless gadget with a Flash-enabled browser to view specialized versions of either Yahoo Messenger or Mail through a universal landing page. What's more, owners of certain BlackBerry handsets like the 8820 or Curve 8320 can keep feeding their addictions non-stop thanks to an agreement between JetBlue and RIM.

Bandwidth for these services is provided by LiveTV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the carrier that provides the entire fleet with select DirecTV and XM radio channels, and which also happens to possess a valuable 1MHz slice of ground-to-air spectrum that it's deploying for this very purpose (with the help of some 100 existing cell towers around the country). If all goes well in what is admittedly a beta test, more aircraft will receive the WiFi makeover, and more features -- such as access to terabytes of locally-stored multimedia content -- will be rolled out, along with additional service providers besides Yahoo. Just don't expect an open pipe any time soon: that sweet little slice of spectrum is not nearly robust enough to handle the heavy Slinging, VoIPing, and Torrenting you all would obviously be doing.

Engadget’s parent company, Verizon, now owns Yahoo. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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