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So far, I haven't been lucky enough to fly on one the planes equipped with in-flight Internet access. A new In-Stat research report, Delayed Departure: Will In-Flight Broadband Take Off? gives me hope I may have better luck later this year.

"The market is clearly gaining momentum, with deployments escalating in number," said Daryl Schoolar, an In-Stat analyst. "However, in-flight broadband faces challenges, however, by the struggling economy and competing non-traditional IFE solutions."

In-Stat said the number of broadband enabled airplanes will increase from 25 in 2008 to 800 in 2009, creating a $49 million market worldwide in 2009. The market is expected to grow well beyond $1 billion annually by 2012.

In-Stat expects in-flight broadband equipment revenue to nearly double between 2009 and 2013 and forecasts over 200 million annual in-flight broadband connects by 2013, with long-haul connects dominating over short-haul contacts. Notebook computers will account for 2/3 of the connections. In-Stat forecasts live broadcast video service on planes will continue to grow strongly through 2013 as well.

Paulo Prada writes about users' experiences with in-flight broadband and their frustration in finding out what flights have broadband in her Wall Street Journal article Internet Service in the Air Is Slow to Take Off -- Though Rollout Is Under Way, Carriers Still Can't Confirm Which Flights Have Wi-Fi. In the article, Prada describes airlines plans for rolling out the service, noting Virgin America expects to have all of its 28 planes equipped with in-flight broadband by the end of May and Delta, with 130 Wi-Fi equipped planes now, expects to take until late next year to equip all of its approximately 500 aircraft with Internet access.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.