Back in the old days, the in-flight magazines or books were the only sources of entertainment for the passengers. Now with in-flight Wi-Fi services, everybody can stream their favorite content, play games or browse the web during the flights.
When internet packages like Ultimate Cox 300 Mbps enable the customers to enjoy high-speed Internet at affordable prices, it makes sense that wifi must also be one of the most popular in-flight amenities. Another reason for the importance of in-flight wifi is also because crucial business meetings and decisions can’t be delayed in today’s day and age. You need to stay connected in the sky otherwise the business might suffer huge losses.
Learn more about the kinds of Wi-Fi technology while onboard, the biggest Internet providers, speeds, and prices offered by them.
The Types of Wi-Fi Technology
If you are a subscriber of Internet services and plans like Cox Internet Starter, you might know about how these services reach your home. Typically, on the ground, the Internet services reach you through DSL, cable or fiber. In the sky, however, it is a different story. Airplanes get the Internet connection in the following ways:
This system requires a plane antenna and ground towers to function. The antenna on the plane gets connected to the Internet providing towers. It picks the signals from these towers and converts it into a hotspot. The passengers can easily use the Internet with the help of this hotspot.
This type of Wi-Fi does not work over water. Gogo is one of the largest ground-based broadband providers in the country. It allows guests to surf the web for a limited amount of time. The speeds provided are quite slow as well.
This connection is very similar to the satellite Internet connection in people’s homes. People still opt for a satellite connection in remote areas or wherever there are frequent Internet outage issues. So, companies have started using the already established infrastructure to provide Internet in the sky as well.
From an orbiting satellite, the signal is received by the plane antenna. The signal gets converted to a hotspot that is used to provide Internet access to the passengers.
The difference between ground-based and satellite broadband is that as the plane moves, the satellites will keep changing. The passengers will notice an interruption in Internet services during this transition.
The Airlines That Offer Internet Services
Gogo is one of the biggest ground-based broadband providers has contracts with local airlines like United Airlines, Virgin America and Delta. An hour-long Internet access costs around $7 and day-long Internet access around $19. There are several monthly and yearly plans available for frequent travelers as well.
Some airlines like Southwest and Hawaiian allow Internet access through the mobile app. Some airlines use a Guest Wi-Fi network during flights to stay secure. Currently, Lufthansa, Emirates, and Qantas depend upon the big telecom companies or provide Internet access on their own. As the demand for in-flight Wi-Fi increases, we can expect to see more and more airlines offering their broadband services.
Why In-Flight Wi-Fi is So Slow?
When the in-flight Wi-Fi technology was introduced, the speed and the data was more than sufficient for the passengers. This was because the usage and demand were limited. Now, everyone has their mobiles and laptops with them in the sky. So, the current technology is not advanced enough to bear the load. Upgrading the satellite or ground-based broadband can be quite expensive.
However, with the development of technologies like Nest Wi-Fi and next-generation antennas, we can expect to have high Wi-Fi speeds in-flights soon.
Why In-Flight Wi-Fi Is Expensive?
The Satellite system is quite expensive to set up. Moreover, it is difficult to install antennas in old aircraft as well because of the huge costs. Their maintenance too requires both time and money. These costs are not sufficiently covered by the purchase of in-flight Wi-Fi by the passengers currently. But the prices can vary at different times of the year.
When there are more business class travelers, the prices can go up significantly. The reason for that is the current technology is not advanced enough to allow unlimited data usage. Therefore, to keep a lot of customers from using Wi-Fi, they have to set the prices high.
Is In-Flight Wi-Fi Safe?
The in-flight Wi-Fi is usually quite safe. However, if you are using the Internet through a public hotspot, then your data might be at risk. A hacker can easily access your data as it is not encrypted on a public hotspot. Make sure that you have a secure and expensive VPN app installed on your mobile or laptop before using a public hotspot.
The current technology has surely enabled passengers to access the Internet in the sky. However, in the future, you can expect Internet speeds to go up and the prices to go down as the demand for the in-flight Wi-Fi increases significantly.