Wi-Fi in the skyCurrent affairsScience & Technology
The ability and ease we require to stay connected is becoming more and more important in our daily lives. In a society when people are often doing things “on the go” being able to get online wherever and whenever we want is necessary for us to achieve any number of goals and connect with our family, friends and others across the world. However, only in recent years has it been possible to access a Wi-Fi network on an aircraft during a flight and the airline industry has perceived the demand for a better, more dependable service and is therefore working to either implement or improve it on their fleets. Soon, for short-haul flight, 4G will be available too.
Inflight entertainment these days no longer means a list of movies to scroll through or an airline magazine full of brightly coloured essentials to buy, or that book you’ve been waiting to read. Now, the majority of airlines are using technology company Gogo’s Wi-Fi service in some of their planes. Early last year, the European International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes British Airways, teamed up with Gogo in order to offer passengers inflight interconnectivity in 2017 using the company’s latest satellite technology, 2Ku, which in testing exceeded speeds of 100 Mbps.
Although some airlines have been offering travellers a Wi-Fi service they have had to deal with complaints about limited streaming capabilities, slow speeds and time limits that come with high prices. With 2Ku, a number of the issues can be addressed, and the intention is to offer customers a service that they would have on the ground, so they can stream videos, play online games, send emails and use multiple devices. Gogo have also stated that this technology will in the future “transform the duty free experience allowing travellers to order from their phones and tablets and arrange for items purchased on board to be delivered to their homes”.
A number of companies, such as Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Air China, offer free connectivity, though some only allow passengers to surf for free but require them to pay for streaming, while Air America offers an all-day pass to use the internet for $16 (plus tax) on most domestic flights. For other paid services what you can do online while you travel is dependent on how much you are willing to spend. In Europe, companies have been slower in giving passengers internet access on route, and British Airways will finally be providing high-speed W-Fi for some long-haul and short-haul flights this year once Gogo’s latest new-generation technology is installed, followed by other IAG airlines. It only remains to be seen and to experience how well 2Ku works for travellers, and whether the prices are worth it.
The editorial unit