In-flight Wi-Fi is not something new. Maybe you have even tried it out on a flight in the past, in which case there is a good chance that you weren’t particularly impressed. To be fair, the way it works makes it difficult for a good, steady connection to be maintained throughout the journey.
Currently, in-flight Wi-Fi can be slow and patchy, leading to a great deal of frustration for passengers who want to go online. The good news is that current trials could be about to change that. So, will we soon have high speed internet up in the sky as well as on the ground?
The Current Situation
Right now, the list of airlines offering or planning to offer in-flight Wi-Fi covers the likes of Air Canada, British Airways, Virgin America and Lufthansa. While many airlines offer some sort of service, only 8 of them currently give this for free.
Travellers frequently complain about the speed and pricing of Wi-Fi up in the sky too. It certainly is a bit strange that something that is now so fast and accessible on the ground should continue to be scarce, expensive and slow up in the sky. Of course, if you still don’t have fast internet on the ground then you will find more info here.
You will find new developments in in-flight Wi-Fi popping up fairly regularly in the news now. As well as new airlines adding the service to their flights, there is also a lot of work going to make it better, faster and more accessible. For example, Virgin America has recently announced in-flight streaming to Netflix customers before long.
We can also see that German carrier Lufthansa has recently signed a deal with Inmarsat that will give fast broadband to all of its passengers in Europe by 2016. This will work by using the Inmarsat satellite network to beam out the signals needed for Wi-Fi in the sky. Low cost carrier Jet Blue is also planning to bring Wi-Fi to its planes next year, using a new satellite based service and offering a free streaming service.
Gogo is the company that supplies in-flight Wi-Fi to many domestic flights in the US. Their Chief Commercial Officer recently confirmed that they are working on second generation technology that would involve better antennae and a satellite-based service. It was also revealed that the company needs to keep prices high as the current service would be unstable if many more people used it.
It seems as though a move towards satellite based Wi-Fi networks will give us faster and more reliable in-flight broadband, starting as early as 2016. Some airlines will be offering this service earlier than others but once the floodgates open it is safe to assume that fast in-flight Wi-Fi will soon be available across the board.
Before long we will be able to send emails, watch movies, do research or really do anything that we would normally do on the internet on the ground. This is going to be a big boost for business travellers, while it will help keep the rest of us from getting too bored on our trips if we use a phone or low cost laptop to get connected.
If you are still avoiding in-flight Wi-Fi then you won’t need to do for much longer. By mid-2016 we should finally start to see fast and reliable internet arrive to planes across the world.