Free WiFi in the sky for the holiday season

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The Independent Travel

Google has partnered with Virgin America to give holiday travellers free WiFi connections while they are in the air.

Passengers on selected Virgin America flights travelling during the dates of November 10, 2009 to January 15, 2010 will be able to access the free internet connection via a WiFi-enabled laptop or mobile device. The "Holiday Gift" was announced by Google on an October 19 blog post.

The service is made available via a series of network towers located underneath selected flight routes throughout America. Users connect to the service in the same way they would connect to a wireless connection when on the ground. "Gogo has built a mobile broadband network of ground towers covering the entire sky above the continental United States to do the same thing for a plane," wrote Google on a dedicated Gogo web page.

"Equipment onboard continuously selects the strongest connection from the towers below. With nothing but air between these towers and your plane, it's possible to get a strong connection even at 35,000 feet."

In-flight WiFi is becoming popular with business and leisure travellers alike and many airlines are trialling new ways to bring WiFi to consumers whilst in the air. On October 6, ad network JiWire and Row 44 announced they would partner to bring travellers free, ad-supported in-flight wireless network called SkyTown Center. The world-first service is set to kick off in November with airline partners yet to be announced.