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. . . even in the air. These new tech features are ready for takeoff.

This story appears in the December 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Flying on a plane used to be one of the few places where you could disconnect from the world. But with pushing its way onboard, staying in touch with terrestrial matters while flying at 35,000 feet will soon be routine.

  • In-flight cell phones: Current rules forbid use of mobile phones on commercial airliners. But earlier this year, American and Frontier began testing new systems that let passengers use their cell phones in-flight. Planes are equipped with a cellular base station. Onboard calls are routed through this base station, then linked to the earthbound telephone network via satellite, allowing passengers to make and receive calls without interfering with the plane's navigation systems. Testing should last another year or so.
  • In-flight internet: now offers onboard high-speed internet access using a system called Connexion by . Users log on for $30 per long-haul flight or opt for the metered price of $10 for the first 30 minutes, then 25 cents per minute thereafter. (You'll soon find Connexion on All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Scandinavian Airlines and Singapore Airlines.)

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