Verizon Airfone nearer to flight broadband

Verizon Airfone says it is making significant progress toward providing wireless broadband services for U.S. air travel.

The announcement follows the FCC’s establishment of rules for auctioning spectrum in the 800 MHz band dedicated to commercial air-to-ground telecommunication services.

The FCC’s action will enable the agency to auction spectrum licenses early in 2006 and puts Verizon Airfone one step closer to providing its customers with broadband services. An auction early next year will enable Verizon Airfone to begin offering inflight wireless Internet access in 2007 (subject to acquiring a license from the FCC).

“We are pleased with the FCC’s efforts to promote the development of broadband services, and we urge the FCC to move as quickly as possible to auction new licenses in the 800 MHz band,” said Bill Pallone, president, Verizon Airfone Inc. “Verizon Airfone is excited about the opportunity to provide innovative wireless services to the flying public, and there are many interested airlines and general aviation operators that share our commitment to this broadband vision.”

Verizon Airfone, first to use third-generation (3G) CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology in an airborne system, has been demonstrating the system to commercial airlines by conducting flight tests since September 2004 that have achieved ground-to-air peak data speeds of 2.4 Mbps (megabits per second). In June 2005, Verizon Airfone became the first company to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to install the necessary cabin equipment to enable passenger and crew use of wireless (Wi-Fi) devices onboard U.S. domestic commercial aircraft.

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Verizon Airfone is working with industry leaders to ensure the highest quality connectivity for its customers. Working with QUALCOMM Incorporated, a leading developer and innovator of CDMA and other advanced wireless technologies, Verizon Airfone completed its first commercially packaged air radio prototype in July. Supporting CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, special features of this air radio include provisions for extended distances and Doppler compensation for high-speed aircraft.

Working with Airvana, an innovator and leader in broadband CDMA network infrastructure systems based on 3G EV-DO wireless packet-data technology, Verizon Airfone has developed a customized radio base station with unique RF filtering capabilities to ensure that no interference is caused to systems operating in adjacent radio bands.

With Verizon Airfone’s faster and more affordable wireless broadband service, passengers can expect to gain access to the Internet; corporate VPN (Virtual Private Network) e-mail and personal e-mail accounts (e.g., Yahoo!, AOL, MSN); streaming video; and VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) services. Once Verizon Airfone’s broadband network is in place, airlines and general aviation operators only need the addition of an avionics box, a wireless access point and a directional antenna to begin offering wireless broadband services to their passengers.

Verizon Airfone plans to upgrade its existing North American ground network with the broadband technology that will provide passengers, airlines and general aviation operators with many benefits over the existing Airfone(R) system available today. Currently, passengers are staying connected to work, family and friends using Airfone(R) Service on United Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, Delta Air Lines and more than 3,000 general aviation aircraft.
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