As if there weren't enough bragging rights for checking into restaurants and bars on terra firm, ubiquitous Foursquare has found a way to check you in when you're hovering 30,000 feet above the planet. Starting today, airline passengers who check-in to Foursquare via Gogo's inflight Internet service will earn a "Mile High Badge."
Foursquare Mile High BadgeAvailable in the US on Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, United, US Airways and Virgin America, your "Mile High Badge" is a digital token that marks your location-based conquest of the friendly skies. A la carte, Gogo service costs around $10 per flight, depending on the airline and the destination. The provider also sells service by month, in six packs and as 24-hour passes.
How does Gogo work?
Gogo that has used cell tower communications for ground-based phones has now pointed them toward the skies. Aircell, the company behind Gogo, has built a mobile broadband network of ground towers covering the entire sky above the continental US. Equipment onboard your plain continuously selects the best signals from the towers below. As you'll see in this YouTube vid, with nothing but air between these towers and your plane, you'll always be getting the best connection.
The two major Wi-Fi providers, Aircell and Row 44, have been locked in a battle to acquire carriers' inflight service. According to a PCMag report, Aircell has had a two-year jump on Row 44, and apparently is a cheaper service. Today only one Southwest plane is Wi-Fi equipped, but the company plans to start installation by the end of the summer on all of its 541 planes at a rate of about 15 per month. Southwest is one of the few airlines not to use Aircell- as it has decided on Row 44. Southwest charges a flat $5 access fee per ride but hasn't said whether that price will increase substantially when Row 44 is fully integrated.
While the Aircell system is geographically limited to the United States, Row 44's service, in contrast, uses an antenna mounted to an aircraft to link the plane up to the HughesNet satellite Internet service, which allows the company to effectively deploy wireless "bubbles" for flights around the globe.
There was no word at the time of this posting if Foursquare is locked into an inclusive deal with Gogo and will not be offering badges or even 'mayorships' with Row 44 airlines' inflight WiFi service. Time will tell as the WiFi battle for dominance of the skies continues!