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Issue of August 2005 

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Essar aircraft goes Wi-Fi

A 12-seater aircraft owned by the Essar Group has been Wi-Fi enabled. While commercial aircraft can offer only Wi-Fi Internet access, privately-owned aircraft can provide this as well as WLAN connectivity because the travellers belong to the same enterprise.

The Essar aircraft has been provided with WLAN and Wi-Fi connectivity using DWL-2100AP access point and wireless print-server DP-311U from D-Link. The Wi-Fi equipment using the 802.11g protocol and an HP inkjet printer with USB interface are permanently installed in the aircraft. Executives carrying their own Wi-Fi enabled laptops get connected when they are on the flight. Internet connectivity is provided through satellite communication services.

In-flight connectivity may turn out to be the most important productivity tool for business travellers. The cost of connectivity, compared to the cost of flying itself, would be negligible. Commercial aircraft with high-speed wireless access are being tried out by leaders in the aviation industry.

Wireless connectivity is needed as you cannot have Ethernet cabling running criss-cross all over the interior of the aircraft. Wi-Fi enabled laptops are best suited for such applications since business travellers often carry their own laptops with them and like to continue with their day-to-day work even on a flight.

Boeing’s Connexion, which offers wireless access, is currently available on 65 aircraft from 11 airlines. By the end of 2006, about 150 aircraft will be Wi-Fi enabled. Airbus’ OnAir, which will offer in-flight Internet connectivity and cellular service, is expected to be launched in 2006.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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