Internet Access at 30,000 Feet

My First Time With WiFi on a Plane

I had my first experience with airplane wifi this week on a trip to California. Upon boarding the Southwest flight, I noticed a sticker on the plane saying "Wifi-ready" (or something like that). This was the leg from RDU to Chicago and, since it was only $5, I gave it a shot. Once we were at 10,000 feet, I fired up the laptop, brought up the Cisco Secure Services Client, and got connected. Wifi strength was strong. At browser launch a Southwest registration page came up where I got to pay my $5 via credit card. Being a good network engineer, my next hop was to a bandwidth speed test site. The length of time it took the Speakeasy page to load was a bad omen. But, 1.3Mbps down (that was peak mind you) is not that bad. I can live with that for VPN, e-mail, and web pages. The big problem was the upload. Ugh, 80 kbps. Adding to, and exacerbating, the bandwidth problem was network delay (and you thought bouncing off a satellite wasn't so bad): I'm not really sure how Southwest delivers the signal to the plane (ground based system, satellite, etc), but this delay is terrible. Many apps will just not work. Consistency was there though - using ping as my sole basis of analysis: This brings me to VPN, since I need to get connected to the office to work. I did once - and only once - get the Cisco AnyConnect client to connect: After which is quickly dropped the VPN connection. After about 5 more attempts, I gave up on AnyConnect reverted to the old Cisco IPSec client. That client never connected. After giving up on VPN, I did try to bring up a few Internet sites, but they would take minutes to load. It was unusable. This testing pretty much used up my time on the flight from RDU to Chicago (about 2 hours). Overall, this was a failure. I wouldn't even pay $5 for this again. This services needs to be better. Upgrade the infrastructure and I'd be happy to pay more ($10, $15). Here's hoping next trip is better.

More >From the Field blog entries:

How About This for an Interesting Merger - Juniper and Riverbed

Pre-Quarterly Earnings Announcement News About Cisco's Performance is Tough

Do You Get the Feeling That It Won't Be Enough WAN Bandwidth?

FIB Suppression and Virtual Aggregation to Help the Internet Scale

Cisco Is Getting a Bad Rap on the Corporate Tax Issue

I've Graduated and Now I'm Back (to Blogging More)

  Go to Cisco Subnet for more Cisco news, blogs, discussion forums, security alerts, book giveaways, and more.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022