The Office Goes Airborne

Traditional airline seatbacks are about to become full-service communications centers

First it was the home. Phones, fax machines and PCs made it impossible to leave work at the office. Then the cellular phone made the car, even the golf course, fair game. In 1984 Airfone Inc., a GTE subsidiary, began installing telephones on airplanes. But their old-fashioned analog circuitry, vulnerable to interference, made many calls sound as if they came from Mars. Moreover, plane phones were usually scarce, located either fore or aft or shared, one to a three-seat complex, leaving travelers a reasonable excuse for staying blissfully out of pocket.

Soon even this partial sanctuary will be lost. In-Flight Phone...

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