Wi-Fi in the US sky? Follow suit EU!

Plane taking off

Plane taking off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently moved home and had the joyful stresses of trying to move my broadband service. Despite phoning three weeks in advance to organise what should have been a simple change of address and redirection of my connection, I spent two hours on the phone to Virgin Media, talked to eight separate people across four departments and definitely pulled out a lot of hair in the process.

I had only been without internet for two days and it was starting to grate. I needed it for work, I needed it to communicate with my friends and, dear lord, I needed Netflix.

But this is the curse of modern life, being disconnected from the net feels at best like losing your opposable thumbs and at worst like you may as well be chained in the basement for the lack of contribution you can make to yours or anyone else’s day. Ok, the last example may be extreme but you get my drift…

However, there is also the alternative of being connected too much of the time. When did it become ok to check your Twitter whilst mid-conversation with someone? Or have your phone on the table during a romantic dinner in case someone sends you a friend request on Facebook? The amount of time our eyes spend glued to a screen of one form or another cannot be good for us, our health or our relationships and I genuinely believe the threat we had as children of ‘square eyes’ from too much TV may become a reality.

But we are still at a stage where this latter concern is left to the parental campaign groups or hipsters who want to protect children or find a new cause to harp on about that makes them look different from the crowd.

Instead, if you are like me, you continue to get excited about each new announcement of where you can get connectivity. Today’s pledge by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US about setting up an air-ground mobile broadband service, giving more airlines the ability to have Wi-Fi in the sky is the latest and I can’t think of a place that needs the connection more.

I despise flying and whatever I do to try and distract myself, it seldom works. The few internal US flights I have been on with Wi-Fi has given me a little bit of comfort, knowing if something terrible happens, I can send a message to my loved ones in my last few seconds via some social network or another.

But, there is no question the connectivity was flakey at best and on many airlines costs a small fortune to sign up to, much like on railways in the UK.

Pushing for this technology will change that, increase competition between the sky high companies and mean better choices for us all on those journeys.

Alas, this is just a US initiative at the moment but I am keeping my fingers crossed the EU will see fit to do something similar. The amount us Europeans fly around the continent for business trips and the amount of time we lose due to the pain of the airport and being contactless for however many hours we are in the air is frustrating to say the least.

Pushing forward with such a scheme would help keep us productive on the move – or distracted whilst crying into the free vodka and orange I always insist on to settle my nerves – and perhaps even do a little to boost the economy, which the news leads me to believe could do with a pick me up.

Next time I am in a room with Neelie Kroes, I will be sure to bring it up, but until then – and this doesn’t come from me often – well done America, you have done something better than us. Unless all your business people end up with square eyes…

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