They said it couldn’t be done. AirCell said they would block calls from aircraft. What and who flys and tweets at 35000ft? @Andy Abramson tweeted a little while ago breaking the news that you can talk now on AirCell using Phweet. AirCell had recently announced that WiFi would soon be on all aircraft although no telephony. Well they got that wrong! Phweet!
Andy who’s hard wired for journalism rather than hacking code took just a few minutes to figure out how to pierce the Aircell armour and talk to @joannastern. I’m not sure of the promises are that AirCell made to the carriers and the airlines. Still you have to think that a few engineers might not have thought the claims all the way though. Maybe tomorrow they will be scratching their heads.
From Joanna Stern’s point of view I think she believes talking is here to stay. She tried Skype and Sightspeed. Both blocked. Then Andy came to the rescue with Phweet. Next time she will probably pack headset. She reports AirCell Gogo is a good product clearly fast enough to VoIP.
Phweet. Yup, the unfunded brainchild of pals Stuart Henshall and Mr. Blog David Beckemeyer (who I consider one of the true great minds in VoIP) made it happen.
I invited Joanna, she replied and once I figured out how to get Phweet to answer (I had to use Safari, not Firefox) Joanna and I were having a lovely conversation while she was on an Aircell flight. I don’t mean a five second hi, hello. I mean, a real conversation, as she held her Lenovo UMPC up to her face. I even heard the announcement from the flight attendants as she was about to land.
Here’s the logic. Flash audio is embedded inside Flash. Unless Aircell wants to block all Flash traffic, this is the way to talk.
So, if you want to talk in the air, just Phweet.
Joanne provides a nicely chronicled set of events. This one though matters to me!
10:45 p.m.: It turns out there is a way to crack the VoIP calling restriction in the air. VoIP guru, Andy Abramson of VoIP Watch just had to speak to me on the phone (even though I had just seen him before taking off in San Fran). Since calling over Sightspeed or Skype didn’t work we tried a Flash based solution through Phweet (you use your Twitter account to sign in). Andy sent me an invite to talk and there he was. We had a 5 minute phone convo for free (beat that MagicJack!). He sounded great and there was no choppyness on his end, I could hear that I was a bit delayed on his end……
Jack Blumenstein on Skype (chat) for most of the flight. As for the the restriction on VoIP he says, “Fundamentally it is a reaction to widespread passenger aversion to the idea of many people talking loudly on flights (as we’ve all often experienced before take-off or while landing).”
I will point out that in our little arsenal of tricks in Phweet you can decide how to connect with any open telephony network. Phonegnome, Gizmo5, Truphone, FWD are all examples. This call was completed at both ends using “Flash”. Our flash provider is TringMe and it makes call set up when you don’t have a phone easy.