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How Global Eagle keeps you connected to the Internet even when you're up in the air

Philip Michaels | Jan. 14, 2014
When I'm on board a airplane, connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, the truth is, the truth is I don't put a lot of thought into how the Wi-Fi network on board the plane is keeping me tethered to the rest of the world even when I'm cruising along 20,000 feet above it.

In the case of Southwest Airlines, those services include Internet access — $8 for all-day access per device — as well as live and on-demand TV provided via Dish. (On-demand movies are also available, but for a separate charge.) You're able to watch that content on your own tablet or smartphone, a more sensible solution than setback monitors given Southwest's dense seating arrangements.

Southwest also uses Row 44's networking setup to providing a messaging service via Apple's iMessage software, with support for other chat apps coming soon. Southwest says you can use approved Wi-Fi-enabled devices gate-to-gate on its planes.

The setup I saw in the Global Eagle Albatross Thursday morning mirrored the same system that delivers Wi-Fi connectivity in Southwest's fleet. So it was sort of a hoot to step on a Southwest plane on my flight out of Las Vegas later that evening and hear about the same services I saw demoed on a 60-year-old seaplane. I'm just glad that the Southwest 737 I was on didn't attempt to pull off its own water landing on Lake Mead.


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