The question of whether the Internet should extend into our lives when we are cruising at 30,000 feet has been a heavily debated one. Should airplane cabins be bastions of quiet sanctity from the deluge of information and work that follows us everywhere? Or should we use in-flight Wi-Fi to take advantage of every possible productive moment in our lives, even while traveling?
iPass has just weighed in on which side of that debate its enterprise clients fall on. The enterprise mobility service just announced that it has added Aircell to its available network of services. This means that iPass Mobile Network users will be able to connect to Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi, while staying within the iPass network. Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi is available on all AirTran and Virgin America flights, and on limited American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, United and Air Canada flights. Customers will be charged $4.95 for flights less than 1.5 hours, $9.95 for flights 1.5 to three hours, and $12.95 for flights more than three hours long for using Gogo through iPass.
In the product announcement, iPass explained that this will benefit employees of iPass Mobile Network customers, as connecting to Gogo will be more convenient with iPass, since they will be able to avoid the multiple steps of paying via credit card and filing expense reports after the fact for reimbursement. For enterprises, it should simplify accounting, allow companies access to detailed reports on in-flight network usage, and allow enforcement of VPN and security policies.
For regular users of other airlines, iPass says it expects to add more in-flight Wi-Fi services to its offering in 2010.
iPass leaves no doubt in its announcement that mobile workers are now expected to be working constantly when traveling — even when they are at 30,000 feet:
“The age of inflight Internet connectivity is here and is a huge productivity win for business travelers who need to stay connected and work securely online while in the air,” said Evan Kaplan, president and CEO of iPass. “Airplanes have been the last bastion of mobile worker downtime and iPass and Gogo Inflight Internet provider Aircell are here to close this gap in a way that meets the simplicity, visibility and control requirements of the enterprise.”
Say goodbye to the days of settling back in your seat and watching a movie or reading a book and getting some recharging before that big meeting while you cruise at 30,000 feet. When enterprises consider in-flight Wi-Fi a needed function of their mobile networks, the writing is obviously on the wall (or in the clouds): your airplane seat is now an extension of your office.
Does in-flight Wi-Fi make you feel obligated to work? Would that change if it were part of your employer’s mobile network?