Wednesday 15/1/03Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's an extremely mobile Wi-Fi network.

Wednesday 15/1/03
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's an extremely mobile Wi-Fi network. Lufthansa has taken to the skies with the first European use of Connexion by Boeing, which as we reported a couple of years ago is a broadband satellite system that delivers those funky Internet bits direct to your laptop at 35,000 feet. At the time, Boeing was wondering about using USB or ordinary Ethernet to link the punters to the network, but now they've persuaded the authorities that 802.11b is safe as houses in the air. Not that houses are particularly safe in the air, but you know what I mean. This will change in-flight entertainment as we know it. Imagine the fun you can have with a Webcam link back to home, or inveigling your fellow passengers into a quick blast of straightforward plasma death mayhem. And as for what it'll do for those strange souls who like operating virtual airlines over the Internet in real time, heaven only knows. It also brings a new dimension to wardriving, that obtuse yet impressive art of tooling around a neighbourhood looking for open networks. Imagine the fun of hunting around the sky with a high-gain aerial looking for passing airliners -- you won't get much signal through the hull, but the portholes may help. Of course, it's quite possible that sitting on top of Hampstead Heath with a converted Pringles tube aimed at overflying aircraft could be misinterpreted by the local plod as something a tad more antisocial, so if you're planning on doing it we recommend making sure you clear all those castor beans out of your kitchen first. Excellent sport beckons.