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Boeing Drops Wireless System For 787

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the heavy-radios dept.

Wireless Networking 217

K7DAN writes "It appears that state-of-the-art connectivity in Boeing's newest aircraft means a wired, not a wireless network. The Seattle Times reports that Boeing has abandoned plans to bring entertainment and information to passengers through a wireless system in its 787 Dreamliner due to possible production delays and potential conflicts with other radio services around the world. A side benefit is an actual reduction in weight using the wired system. Amazingly, the LAN cables needed to connect every seat in the aircraft weigh 150 lbs less than all the wireless antennae, access points, and thickened ceiling panels required to accommodate a wireless network (the design called for an access point above each row)." The article concludes: "The net impact, [a Boeing spokesman] said, is less technical risk, some weight saved, the system's flexibility and quality preserved plus 'a bit of schedule relief.'"

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plane-LAN to WAN? (5, Interesting)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768302)

Wired seem to be a better solution for a plane anyhow, I wouldn't expect the need for moving around the plane with your laptop to be that massive, I mean people are usually pretty tied to their seats when going with a Boeing.
The problem probably is that different airline companies want different seating positions, but the article says that they should have solved this issue.

The article says nothing about how the LAN on the plane connects to the internet though. I think that is where the state of the art comes in, the only possible solution I see is through satellite connection, but with a moving plane I imagine that is going to give some problems.
Another problem in this is the bandwidth given by a satellite connection, if there are 20 passengers surfing the net that isn't going to give a lot of bandwidth pr. user.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

CheechBG (247105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768392)

You raise a very valid point, I am curious to see how they get around this myself. Not to mention the fact that satellite usually means about ~300ms latency right off the bat, not to mention the fact that the moron sitting next to me just HAS to email a 1GB Powerpoint presentation over VPN...

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

CheechBG (247105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768436)

Not to mention the fact that I should have hiw Preview instead of Submit. Grammar (and reading!) nazi's flame away!

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (5, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768842)

Not to mention the fact that I should have hiw Preview instead of Submit. Grammar (and reading!) nazi's flame away!

OK. "nazi's" should be capitalized, and you've used an apostrophe for your plural which makes it a possessive.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (3, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769142)

You forgot that 'hiw' isn't a word. The poster meant 'hit'.
Please turn in your Spelling Nazi insignia by the end of the day.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (3, Funny)

Nexx (75873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769418)

Your signature sentence ends in an ellipsis, but you do not terminate it with a full stop. In addition, you use a comma where a semicolon is due. Please turn in your Grammar Nazi insignia ASAP.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768700)

The network the article discusses is for the entertainment system only -- streaming movies, flight info, etc. There's no discussion of people connecting to the internet.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (3, Interesting)

icebrain (944107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768748)

The "big idea" with the wireless system was to allow the IFE (in-flight entertainment)--TV screens on the backs of seats and such--to run over the wireless. That way, you wouldn't have to rerun wires if you changed the seating configuration. I think the need for an access point above each row was driven by a need to handle streaming video and games to eight or nine people in each row at the same time. Regular laptop access and all would have been secondary, I think.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (2, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769018)

Access point in each row, with 8 people per AP doing streaming video? That's nuts! I bet they couldn't make it work and wouldn't admit it.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (2, Insightful)

mike260 (224212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769514)

Agree.

Plus, I was under the impression that although 802.11 b/g has 11-13 'channels' there's only really 3 non-overlapping frequency-ranges. So each frequency would be fought over by 10+ APs, all stuffed inside a giant pringles-tube, all trying to shout each other down.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769454)

you wouldn't have to rerun wires if you changed the seating configuration.

I think just wrestling the chairs around and bolting them to the floor would be a lot more time consuming than plugging in a couple of sockets. Besides, they already wire the seats for sound, video, electricity, adding one more cable isn't a big deal. They could combine them all into one fat cable and a single socket to make moving easier.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768826)

Considering that lots of planes (including low cost budget airlines) have had live satellite seat-back TV for many years, I think the satellite problem has been solved long ago. I don't know how offhand, but I imagine it involves GPS tracking the satellite location, and rotating antennae of some sort.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (5, Informative)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768994)

Usually a rotating antenna fed from a 3-axis gyro. Modern aircraft use ring-laser gyros which are very accurate. The antenna always points to the same spot in the sky (assuming it can, on long flights the curvature of the earth can become a factor).

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (5, Interesting)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768976)

I think that is where the state of the art comes in, the only possible solution I see is through satellite connection, but with a moving plane I imagine that is going to give some problems.
Satellite connectivity for an aircraft wouldn't be that hard, really. I would expect the issues to be the same as with marine SATCOM, mainly tracking the satellite and having a clear view of the satellite. On an airplane the LOS issue would be pretty easy, since there isn't much that is above the airplane except empty space. As far as tracking the satellite, a flat-panel phased array antenna would do the job marvelously. In fact, that's one way that the former Connexion by Boeing [wikipedia.org] did it.

As far as bandwidth per user goes, how much does one passenger really need at any given moment? Sending and receiving email doesn't take a lot of bandwidth, and you can go on to do other things while your email client handles that. If you are web surfing, once the page is loaded, your bandwidth requirements are zero until you load a new page. It's not like anybody is going to try hosting a web server at 32,000 feet :)

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (2, Insightful)

Planetes (6649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769090)

This was essentially the point of Boeing's Connexion service but since Boeing canned Connexion it's essentially a non-issue. Connexion was the in-flight internet among other things. Whether or not an equivalent comes around in the future is completely up to the company and it's definitely not a priority among the 787 people in BCA.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

weisen (461536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769316)

I've used the Boeing Connexion service on Lufthansa and I'm blown away that they discontinued it due to lack of interest. I would pay an extra $50 to have Internet on an 8+ hour flight, easily.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connexion_by_Boeing [wikipedia.org]

The Wikipedia article cites satellite and ground stations, which makes sense as ping latencies were large (like two seconds+, if I remember correctly). Playing WoW or Second Life probably wouldn't work out so well.

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769404)

Flarion Technologies (now QFT division of Qualcomm) did some ground-air testing with Flash-OFDM a couple of years ago that worked quite well, so it doesn't have to be a satellite based system. This solves the latency problem. Cell spacing can be quite wide geograpically since you are looking UP instead of through buildings and trees. Also, the number of active receivers per cell is reduced, so the need for cell site density is lower over all. The German railway is currently installing a similar system to provide WAN backhaul to support in-train WIFI access for their intercity transit system.

See this link:

http://www.t-systems.de/en/Home/LargeEnterprise/In dustries/id=156434.html [t-systems.de]

Re:plane-LAN to WAN? (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769530)

I think that is where the state of the art comes in, the only possible solution I see is through satellite connection, but with a moving plane I imagine that is going to give some problems.
Couldn't the connection be handled the same way that in-flight phones work?

access point above every row? (-1, Redundant)

CheechBG (247105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768334)

Come on, you mean to tell me that Boeing wanted to put 100 some access points on this plane? You could get 2, MAYBE 3 Cisco 1131AG's placed strategically could fill the cabin completely.

But, wired being much faster, I really can't argue :)

Re:access point above every row? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768536)

You could get 2, MAYBE 3 Cisco 1131AG's placed strategically could fill the cabin completely.

You're a sophomore jackass without any clue and should just shut the fuck up.

P.S.: Your mom loves to suck thick nigger cocks until fat wads of semen splurt in her ugly horse face.

Re:access point above every row? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768654)

Go back to Digg, douchebag.

Re:access point above every row? (4, Insightful)

Tristandh (723519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768658)

Quick, call Boeing! They probably didn't even consider that! They'll love to hear the your expert opinion! Or: Ask yourself who'll know best. You or them.

Re:access point above every row? (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769348)

Sarcasm aside, I actually found this requirement a bit odd as well. What purpose would it serve to have an AP above each row? How much traffic are we talking about? I'm actually quite curious about the thought process that brought all of this about...

Re:access point above every row? (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768934)

they are likely specially designed low power setups that will not screw with the avionics package. Hardly you 1131AG.

Re:access point above every row? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769002)

Consumer units are already low-power setups which will not interfere with properly-installed avionics packages.

Re:access point above every row? (4, Insightful)

MaestroRC (190789) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768952)

Obviously you don't know much about how wireless works. See, while 3 AP's may provide the proper *coverage* (ie: you can get a signal anywhere in the plane), it can't provide the *bandwidth*. Assuming they're using this for more than just some person's want to get online from the air, such as for in-flight entertainment (think screens at each seat) and possibly a VoIP phone-type setup to consolidate cabling (no seperate phone/video cables for each seat), it likely will use quite a bit of bandwidth. If each row has some 7-8+ seats (twin aisle configuration, likely it's 2/3/2 or 3/3/3), and designing for peak capacity (i'm sorry you can't watch your in-flight movie because your rowmates are all watching it already and those guys are online and that guy is on the phone), it's going to take a lot of bandwidth. Even at 802.11g/a speeds, you're talking at most 108Mbps (twin radio configuration) split across 7-8 people. Figure watching a movie uses 3-10Mbps, that's at nearly peak capacity right there, best case scenario.

Re:access point above every row? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769548)

Even at 802.11g/a speeds, you're talking at most 108Mbps (twin radio configuration) split across 7-8 people. Figure watching a movie uses 3-10Mbps, that's at nearly peak capacity right there, best case scenario.
Your point is valid, but to be more precise: there's no 108 Mb/s standard. ieee802.11 is 11 to 54 Mb/s theoretically, which translates to 6 to 27 Mb/s real.
That could sound very low, but take into account that in flight movies would be transmitted almost certainly in multicast, which means that one or one hundred people watching would build the same network load. There would be a problem if every passenger in the row is talking to the phone or worse, watching youtube videos, but that's another story.

They forgot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768350)

They forgot the costs of 10000 miles of Cat5 cable, though.

Why not? (-1, Redundant)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768356)

Well if it helps them why give them grief? Wired networks are : faster safer and apperently not as heavy as WiFi h/w I'm with their side... :)

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768358)

Finally someone has woken up to the fact that wireless is not the be all and end all of data communications.

It has its place but not replacing wires for noapparent reason when the wires can do the job cheeper, lighter and faster!

1 AP per row?! (0)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768362)

Overkill much? I can see 1 AP per section between restrooms/flight attendant work areas, but per seat row? From the article it sounds like they're using some kind of RF signal, so it's not like they really would need to preserve line-of-sight. Anybody have details on why, exactly, they're need an AP for every row of seats?

Re:1 AP per row?! (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768542)

Umm, since when has wifi NOT been RF? I think it's overkill, but they don't have line-of-sight issues because the whole plane is within the line-of-sight of the APs. Now if they were doing optical or infrared wireless, that'd be different, but then everyone would need special hardware to use it and that'd just be a pain. But I'm pretty sure that wifi hasn't ever been anything but RF. :)

Re:1 AP per row?! (2, Insightful)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768904)

I would guess it was so they could use low-power APs. Probably easier to get FAA approval for something running in the bluetooth power range rather than a typical AP.

No surprise (4, Insightful)

BadERA (107121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768374)

Considering every commercial airline's effort to offer WiFi to date has been scrapped either before takeoff (pun intended), or not long after launch. The costs are simply not supported by the revenue, simple as that. Other considerations like weight and maintenance complexity are secondary.

Not surprising. (3, Insightful)

adamstew (909658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768386)

They would need to have cables running throughout the plane anyway to all the wireless antenna. Just put a hub in place of an antenna and run a few more cables to the seats. With all the shielding and such that a plane has, you'd probably need a boatload of antennas...Then you have to worry about extra shielding for all the onboard components, etc.

Besides, all this means is that the business traveler will have to carry around a 2 ft CAT 5 cable...big deal. I bet some creative laptop maker comes up with one of those airline power adapters that also integrates a CAT 5 cable in to it. Just plug the one end in to the back of your laptop, and plug in the power and network cables in to the appropriate ports on the other end.

Re:Not surprising. (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768684)

Besides, all this means is that the business traveler will have to carry around a 2 ft CAT 5 cable

My first thought was that they would just have cables permanently attached and resting in, say, the little pocket in the seat back in front of you. Then I thought, the most likely scenario would be for them to charge you $5 for a cable just like they do with headphones. Then, they could make the connector that goes into their network unique in some way so that your standard cable wouldn't fit, and you would be forced to rent theirs.

I don't think they would require you to bring a cable with you, since it's probably only a matter of time before they ban all cables of any kind from airplanes because they could be used to make bombs or something.

Re:Not surprising. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769314)

There is such a thing as retractable cables. Pull it out of the armrest or seat...press a button and it pops back in.

Re:Not surprising. (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769468)

Retractable cables can be used to make bombs too...

Weight saved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768402)

How important is saving 150 pounds on a plane that weighs between 360k and 540k pounds on takeoff?

Re:Weight saved? (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768482)

How important is saving 150 pounds on a plane that weighs between 360k and 540k pounds on takeoff?

      It may seem small in comparison, but it's 150lbs less you have to pay fuel for, for the entire service life of the plane. While this probably wouldn't be a huge chunk of profits gone, why waste money? After a while the fuel needed to ship that extra 150lbs certainly adds up. I wouldn't want to pay for it!

Re:Weight saved? (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768940)

You have to remember, you want to save as much as you can. so this is only one so many weight saving measures. I am sure they have done things so save more weight as well, and say they save 1000lb total. that more cargo you can pack into the plane, meaning more cash.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

tietack (982580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768958)

As I remember, when oil was $20/barrel, each lb of weight meant $100 in operating costs per year.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

DieByWire (744043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769586)

It may seem small in comparison, but it's 150lbs less you have to pay fuel for, for the entire service life of the plane. While this probably wouldn't be a huge chunk of profits gone, why waste money? After a while the fuel needed to ship that extra 150lbs certainly adds up. I wouldn't want to pay for it!

Exactly. On long haul flights (which is the 787's mission) weight is critical due to the increase in fuel burn over the trip. More weight means more lift, more lift means more drag, and more drag means higher fuel flow.

For example, on a typical 8 to 9 hour trans-Atlantic flight, if you choose to carry another 1000 lbs of fuel at takeoff, you'll have roughly 600 - 700 lbs more on arrival - the other 300 - 400 lbs were spent to carry the weight of the extra fuel. (The actual penalty will vary by aircraft.) So, shaving 150 lbs off the plane can save you roughly 40 - 50 lbs per flight, twice a day, year after year. That's over 5000 gallons of $1.89/gallon jet fuel per year.

And no, skinny crewmembers don't get a bonus.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768498)

It all adds up. If airplane designers aren't weight concious at all times then they're not airplane designers for long.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768630)

Oooh...a sting to soaring brick designers everywhere.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768998)

Apparently even a little weight savings is a big deal for airlines. In China they want you to punch your ticket before boarding [guardian.co.uk] .

Re:Weight saved? (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769162)

Wait, that doesn't make any sense... You brought the waste with you when you got on the plane. The weight of the plane doesn't change if you move the waste to the toilet. Is the loss of efficiency coming from the operational mechanism of the toilet? Drag due to frozen waste on the exterior?

Re:Weight saved? (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769310)

Oh... I see. Go before you get on. Right. Nevermind.

Huh? (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769464)

Wait, that doesn't make any sense... You brought the waste with you when you got on the plane.
Uh, not if you use the toilet in the airport before boarding the plane.

Re:Weight saved? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769432)

Why do I have mental images of the fleet in question being full of older gas guzzlers that waste millions of liters of fuel just by being old and obsolete, and the airline of course deciding that in order to save gas they're going to remove the seats and just tape everyone down to the floor, which saves hundreds of liters in the end?

It all goes to show... (2, Insightful)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768428)

...if you're not moving around much, use a light little ethernet cable and save yourself all the hassle of wireless. It trumps wireless in speed, reliability and cost.

Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768442)

For laptops, this isn't a big deal--you're not going to roam about the cabin one way or another, and an ethernet cable to the armrest is hardly a huge burden when sitting still.

But WiFi would have been really zoomy for VoIP-enabled cell phones, so it's sort of a shame they won't be useable.

On the other hand, the last thing I want is to be sitting next to a cell phone user for 6 hours, so maybe this is a good thing..

I can see... (3, Insightful)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768446)

how this makes sense for laptops as it shouldn't matter laptops generally have both, and there is no need to be mobile on a plane, but what about WiFi PDA's and the upcoming cell phones with wifi capabilities, both of those could be pretty important to an exec who needs to remain connected.

Re:I can see... (2, Interesting)

FireFlie (850716) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768710)

I guess WiFi PDA's will be SOL, but I'm sure most execs that need to connect to the internet via their cell phones will probably use their cell phone network's internet connection.

Re:I can see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769594)

how this makes sense for laptops as it shouldn't matter laptops generally have both, and there is no need to be mobile on a plane, but what about WiFi PDA's and the upcoming cell phones with wifi capabilities, both of those could be pretty important to an exec who needs to remain connected.

Bring a small wireless router onto the plane with you. Maybe you can even make a few bucks by selling the WEP key to nearby passengers.

I know this feeling (0)

kalpol (714519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768458)

It's the same feeling I have scribbling notes in a meeting with a pencil rather than using my laptop.

Waaaait-a-minit... (2, Insightful)

Sunrun (553558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768472)

"Amazingly, the LAN cables needed to connect every seat in the aircraft weigh 150 lbs less than all the wireless antennae, access points, and thickened ceiling panels required to accommodate a wireless network (the design called for an access point above each row)."

So, obviously, they didn't spec this out with commodity hardware -- I'm guessing that and the extra shielding were to mitigate any radio interference that might mess with the avionics. But come on.. there has to be a wireless solution that uses less physical hardware than this.

- 'Drew

Re:Waaaait-a-minit... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768794)

It's actually pretty well known in architecture circles that to get good coverage / decent speed in an entire building, the wiring can be expected to be about the same (in qty/manhours) cost to the client. Some sparkies joke that it takes more wire to do wireless.

Power? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768920)

Don't forget that your typical household WAP (let alone a commercial version) has enough transmitting power to register a good signal at least 10m away. I'm guessing, based on the paranoia about RFI in planes, that nothing CLOSE to that high powered would be considered acceptable.

It's quite probable that, for safety reasons, they were looking at a solution with a large number of very low power WAP's, which makes sense--you will have a lot less stray energy.

I don't think that the primary design concern is how to cover as much of the plane as possible with little equipment.

Re:Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769554)

The wifi adapter in your laptop will have an equally good broadcast range, and it is possible, however unlikely, that there could be >500 active WiFi-equipped laptops, phones, and PDAs on board. Where is the safety net, again? Oh right, none of it will affect properly-installed, properly-maintained avionics at all in the first place. It is all about paranoia and CYA so substandard maintenance in commercial aviation can continue. Carry on then!

Re:Waaaait-a-minit... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769562)

how many pieces of commodity hardware will run with power running at 400Hz instead of 60(or50)Hz?

Airlines are a little different then your home.

Warflying? (4, Funny)

asiansteev (991271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768480)

You could probably just warfly some wireless connection from the ground if you really needed wireless in a plane, right?

Re:Warflying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768838)

Unfortunately, most APs don't have a 30,000 foot range.

Re:Warflying? (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769104)

Unfortunately, most APs don't have a 30,000 foot range.

It's also really tough to see warchalking from that altitude.

Re:Warflying? (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769424)

William Shatner looks out the plane windows and sees a gremlin with a laptop and Pringles can on the wing.

Now all they need to do.. (2, Insightful)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768546)

..is allow you to take your laptop on the flight.

Re:Now all they need to do.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768606)

You can provided you don't have any SONY batteries!

Yes Sony screwed you over again!

Re:Now all they need to do.. (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768834)

Or put a secure web terminal on each seat back. Bring your own USB stick and you're ready to go..

Re:Now all they need to do.. (1)

Sumadartson (965043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769238)

Uhm, what are you talking about? I went through Miami, Heathrow, Schiphol, La Paz last month flying AA, KLM and VA and could take my laptop with me for each and every flight. There's a short period during the flights where you can't use any electronic devices, but that's it.

Weird (0)

flogger (524072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768596)

I scanned the article summary above and thought that Boeing was going to a Weird network. I skipped right to the article to see the details and was disappointed.

Re:Weird (2, Funny)

mortonda (5175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769054)

I scanned the article summary above and thought that Boeing was going to a Weird network. I skipped right to the article to see the details and was disappointed.
Umm, then you obviously didn't read it, as it said they had AP's above every row. Sounds weird to me.

Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768652)

They're going to have to find some reeeally long cables!

(I understand that's not what the article meant, but it's the first thing that popped into my head.)

Re:Oh noes! (1)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768852)

> it's the first thing that popped into my head

I take that as a caveat for pretty much any /. comment.

Common Sense... (1, Insightful)

AVonGauss (1001486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768798)

An access point above every row? Maybe there is a technical reason that someone can point out, but that sounds just whacked to me... So now there are going to be jacks at every seat, people will need to carry a LAN cable and since we're crunching all the seats together to maximize profit thats one more coffee spilling device to invade the small world of the plane traveler's seat... Sigh...

Re:Common Sense... (1)

DBCubix (1027232) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768892)

I was thinking the same thing too, that is way too many access points unless there is a good reason, perhaps some directional antennas to cut down on unwanted interference with other radio devices or maybe the rows are comprised of 20+ seats or something. How about putting the access points below the seats so that we can radiate our genetalia and use them as flotation devices?

Re:Common Sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769188)

Hopefully they will simply use retractable cables so there isn't a need for customers to bring their own. Sort of how the headrest-embedded phones work (well, before they had those cordless ones).

Still, they should've gotten multiple designs before even deciding wireless was a bad idea, considering all the devices that don't have CAT5 connections on their devices (PDA, cell phones, etc). You don't need that many AP's, and you could just get simple repeaters that only need power.

Another reason to go wired (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768818)

There's... someone on the wing! Some... thing! And it's... trying to... leech wifi! </shatner>

Re:Another reason to go wired (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769170)

score +1, Academy Award Nominee

Re:Another reason to go wired (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769534)

Shouldn't it Llithgow instead of Shatner?

Am I the only one who remembers "Twilight Zone: The Movie" ?

Re:Another reason to go wired (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769614)

Shouldn't it Llithgow instead of Shatner?
It could be, but Lithgow is much harder to type an impression of in text. Unless, of course, you're doing Lithgow from Buckaroo Banzai. "Laugh-a while you can-a, monkey-boy!"

Am I the only one who remembers "Twilight Zone: The Movie" ?
Wanna see something really scary?

Actually they ditched it because... (3, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768874)

... it was going to be too hard to implement the system. Imagine this cockpit conversation:

"Denver, AA325 - Requesting clearance to LAN - over"
"Negative, AA325 - do not land - over."
"No, not land, LAN - over"
"Landover? No - this is Denver - over."
"Roger, Denver..."
"Sorry, Clarence, no clearance."
etc...

Re:Actually they ditched it because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17768960)

1980 just sent me an instant message, it wants it's joke back.

In-flight entertainment runs on Linux (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768912)

On my last flight I noticed the in-flight entertainment system used Linux. How I noticed? It crashed in the middle of the flight and had to be rebooted. Tux in corner, kernel boot messages and everything.

I just can't decide if it was a good or bad sign for Linux.

Re:In-flight entertainment runs on Linux (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769364)

On my last flight I noticed the in-flight entertainment system used Linux. How I noticed? It crashed in the middle of the flight
Great choice of words there.

What about the connectors? (4, Insightful)

Nkwe (604125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768914)

The challenge I see with wired Ethernet is the connectors. Is a standard cat 5 jack designed for multiple plug insertions and removals every day? How often would the jacks need to be replaced and can this be done easily?

Re:What about the connectors? (1)

iphayd (170761) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769210)

Back before Wireless Access Points, I would plug and unplug constantly without issue.

As for repairability, It's easy - have a really short extender plugged in and flush with the armrest. Now, if some kid shoves a pencil in the port and mashes it up, all it takes is a removal and replacement of the extender.

Re:What about the connectors? (1)

huge (52607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769324)

Connector durability is usually around ~1500 insertions...

See Regal [regalusa.com] and Ningbo Huanyu [made-in-china.com]

Re:What about the connectors? (1)

altoz (653655) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769356)

They'll probably have a normal plug-in jack and distribute cat-5 cables for a fee (or possibly free), to those that want it, much like headphones. That way, if you have a bad wire, you can just request another one, no big deal.

Canna do it Cap'n! (1)

gnomeza (649598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768916)

Now if only they would add Power-over-Ethernet...

RTFA (4, Informative)

vondo (303621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768950)

The article is not about internet access at all but distribution of inflight movies and entertainment. And there is not an access point at every row, but an antenna at every row (in the old scheme). If you read it, that's a receiving antenna that would then distribute the content to the seats in that row, not a transmitting antenna (access point).

Also, this plane is already several thousand pounds over the design weight, so I imagine that has something to do with this decision.

Would you like Network or Non-Network seating? (2, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17768988)

With wired they can sell premium seats with LAN, or cheaper seats without LAN. That would be harder to control with wireless.

Tripping over wires to get to the bathroom. (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769006)

And think of how long the cord from the plane to the ground must be!

AFAIC, wireless is useless, even in airplanes (1)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769102)

1) I spend how much on HIGH speed access, then I'm going to throttle it? Not!
2) I spend how much time on privacy and security, then I'm going to broadcast? Not!
3) I spend how much time tuning and tweaking Linux, but no device driver? Not!

Personally, I don't trust public access points for outgoing private information. Ever.

Please, sign me off the fing airwaves, AFAIC, hardwired is the only way to fly.

150 lbs (4, Interesting)

Psychic Burrito (611532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769114)

Two weeks ago:

Today:

"Amazingly, the LAN cables needed to connect every seat in the aircraft weigh 150 lbs less (...)"
How to convert the US to metric? Well...how about starting with yourself? ...

Re:150 lbs (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769254)

"thesolo" Asked Slashdot about switching to metric.

"K7DAN" submitted this story.

How are the two related?

Dan East

Re:150 lbs (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769362)

I thought it was only NASA that was going metric.

The rest of the country is still stuck inches and milles

Re:150 lbs (2, Informative)

Type-E (545257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769528)

I have lived in Canada and Hong Kong where both places use metric. While, temperature is in Cecilius, distance is in KM, on the other hand, when weight is referenced, people would still use pounds. I do not mean that they don't use kg, but lbs is more common than kg.

Nice.. except (1)

fury88 (905473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769180)

Now if I could just plug into the port in the back of my head I'd be all set!

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17769436)

Is this what our tax dollars pay for? IS IT?!!!

Hmm...I think it might still happen (1)

coleopterana (932651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17769560)

My laptop only has a wireless card, for whatever reason, I got that finally working with Linux and I just don't have time to deal with making the ancient ethernet card I don't know that I can even find work too (before anyone jumps on me, we're talking ancient hardware on all sides plus some potentially broken dongles and now nonexistent patience). Since everywhere I tend to frequent has wireless, it's been a zero priority, and I scored a device that generates a wireless point from an ethernet port that I intend to test more fully on my next few trips. I wonder if they'll have a problem with me using that on the plane?
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