Internet AccessNew Tech

Getting internet while flying can be a nightmare, but that may be about to change

By December 21, 2018 No Comments
  • “Inflight WiFi has been a recent and increasingly important development in air travel.
  • Aircraft-based WiFi has gone through several generations of technology over the past decade.
  • WiFi tech has gone from low-bandwidth satellite-based systems to ground-based systems, and now back to high capacity satellite-based tech such as GX Aviation, Gogo 2Ku, and Viasat.

As the society’s need to be constantly connected increases, so has the pressure to have inflight WiFi systems on the world’s airlines.

Incredibly, inflight WiFi is a relatively recent development. For instance, Boeing didn’t get into the business until 2001, while Airbus didn’t enter the market until 2005. Gogo, one of the biggest names in the business didn’t come online until 2008. 

A decade ago, the industry was built on low-bandwidth satellite-based systems to transmit data to connect the aircraft with the internet. 

These systems really couldn’t handle a whole lot of traffic. 

“Ten years ago, at best, you’d get your Blackberry to work and you’d get basic text email,” Honeywell senior director of connectivity services, John Peterson told Business Insider in an interview. 

Next came the ground-based systems. 

To get higher data rates, in the United States, they went to ground-based systems,” Peterson said. “And these systems got you into what you would call 3G cellular type speeds.” 

This speed allowed passengers to have web browsing capabilities and the use of smartphone apps. However, these systems depend on ground-based transmitters, which means they only work overland. 

Unfortunately, the experience for many travelers has been expensive and somewhat disappointing. The limited bandwidth of the ground-based system has not been able to keep up with the speed at which technology and data needs have increased.”

Our Take: We all welcome faster, more secure internet during air travel. Satellite internet may end up getting a whole new meaning and reputation boost in comparison to how we know it today.

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