Ding ding ding, in the left corner from Palo Alto we have Facebook, Google and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In the right corner, Airbus, OneWeb and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Without sounding too much like the plot of an ill advised new Austin Powers movie, these are the warring factions in the never ending quest for world dominance, also known as internet from space (and on planes). Airplane WiFi has been traditionally, without fail, terrible. Recently, companies like GoGo have offered higher speed options which can somewhat rival your over priced mobile connection, yet it’s nothing to smile about (or worth paying for). Perhaps the most significant jump in airplane wifi speeds will come from a joint venture between Airbus, OneWeb and Virgin Galactic.
OneWeb has a master plan to launch 900 satellites into space fulfilling the humanitarian dream of bringing WiFi to all reaches of the globe, while creating sweeping seamless coverage from space enabling true WiFi speeds for coveted in flight internet. To summarize: OneWeb is the brains, Airbus is the manufacturer and Virgin Galactic is the muscle launching these 900 individual satellites into space. In flight internet is the essential future trump card in airline competition. All things considered equal, especially with this new seat, I will always favor the airline offering lightning fast WiFi, allowing productivity from take off to touch down. Billions are at stake and the masters of the universe are all in a space race to launch the first successful product. Tell me 900 rockets being launched into space to bring 900 satellites covering the entire globe on a space ship called “WhiteKnightTwo” doesn’t sound like the next Hollywood plot?
I am most interested in the synergy between Virgin and Airbus. Virgin Atlantic have aims to replace their entire 747 fleet in the near future with current contenders in the Boeing 787-9, 777X and Airbus A350. Though the new space WiFi technology would likely be retrofitted to all aircraft types, it’s hard to imagine that Airbus wouldn’t innovate an advantage into their own aircraft (just speculation). Now that your brain is running rampant with scenes from Moonraker, Dr. No, The Spy Who Shagged Me and Mission Impossible 1000, I bid you farewell.
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