Satellite Wi-Fi on United Airlines Flights
The first U.S carrier to offer satellite-based Wi-Fi on long-haul international flights is United Airlines; it now utilizes Panasonic Avionics Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on a Boeing 747. Satellite Wi-Fi has also been added to two Airbus 380 aircraft operating U.S. domestic routes.
United now seeks to provide a two-tiered Wi-Fi service on international flights, and will charge (for the standard speed) between $4 and $15, and (for the accelerated connectivity) between $6 and $16; the price is dependent on the length of flights. The connection speeds of the standard and accelerated services remain unclear, but United maintains that it is faster than air-to-ground Wi-Fi used on domestic flights.
In addition to United, Delta is also planning to have Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on its long-haul aircraft in early 2013. Gogo, an air-to-ground service provider which in June signed a deal with satellite operator SES, will be used by Delta. It remains uncertain whether Gogo will use United's international Wi-Fi service; the latter currently operates an ATG service on domestic flights, but for some premium service flights Gogo also provides in-flight Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi is set to be added to 300 United aircrafts, both international and domestic, by the end of the year, and 1,000 Delta aircrafts by 2015.
More airlines this year are expected to introduce Wi-Fi technologies to their flights. In June of last year, Japan Airlines added the in-flight Wi-Fi to all of its routes between Tokyo and New York, and has since added it to other flight routes. The service costs $12 per hour or $22 for the whole flight. Nippon Airways, Japan's other international flight operator, is expected to add the service later this year.
As carriers begin to look into the viability of international Wi-Fi, others, such as Australian airline provider Qantas, are ending its trial program citing customer disinterest.
Connectivity in the Sky
Airplanes are now becoming increasingly connected, and cell phone connectivity is set to become standard by the end of this year on Boeing 747, 748 and 777 aircrafts. Connectivity options are also currently available on Boeing 737 aircraft and 787 Dreamliner planes.
As companies are set for in-flight connectivity, regulators are failing to keep up; the Federal Aviation Administration still does not allow customers to use electronics during takeoff and landing. Some experts criticize the FAA's point that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals interfere with aircraft equipment; the FAA announced last August it would reconsider its stance on banning electronic devices at less than 10,000 feet, but will still not take the use of cell phone calls into consideration.
An FAA proposal outlines that cockpit crew will not be able to utilize personal electronic devices when aircrafts are operational. iPads, which are involved in flight operations, will not be covered by the prohibition. (CY) Link