Every traveler who’s ever connected to flight wifi has experienced the same frustration: you get to that crucial moment in work, or entertainment, and the signal drops out, or you’re racing to send something, and must wait nearly ten minutes until the plane reaches 10,000 feet. Sigh.
But a new feature from leading in-flight wifi company, Gogo, is about to change that, with more connectivity from just after the wheels lift off, to just before they touch down again on over 650 commercial jets.
Some airlines, and most bigger jets offer a newer wifi system which is capable of gate to gate connectivity, but many regional jets don’t. They use Gogo’s older system, which only works when a plane reaches 10,000 feet of altitude, and before the plane descends again below 10,000 feet.
Read as: your flight wifi should either work the moment you step on board for the entire flight already, or if you are on a flight with one of these Gogo systems, it’ll soon – from July 20th – work a lot sooner. The journey from 10,000 feet down to touchdown can be a long one, particularly in areas with air traffic congestion, so this could be huge minutes, particularly if the big game is streaming.
The main aircraft that’ll be impacted by this change are ones which typically operate shorter, regional flights, where 20 minutes of extra wifi could mean almost half the flight! The new changes to the ATG-4 and ACPU 2 systems will make a huge difference on US regional flights, where the service is most prevalent. Fair enough, if the takeaway from all this is “wow, people are obsessed with their phones”…
For business travelers and those who need to stay in touch, this is welcome news which will see unlimited wifi subscriptions and other connectivity packages bringing greater value, and saving precious time. For business travelers, each moment of connectivity can make all the difference, and for leisure travelers, there are few things as frustrating as missing the big moment on that amazing HBO drama.
From a technology aspect, the WiFi service onboard has dramatically improved – which is great! Unfortunately there is still a defined limit to the bandwidth available from the satellite links… As such, as a business traveller, I am concerned that I may not be able to bet the business-critical presentation downloaded because there are hundreds of other passengers streaming cat videos or sports or movies taking up all the bandwidth. Obviously to those passengers their streaming video is important, but it is very frustrating from my aspect not being able to run the business from inflight.
This was very noticeable on my last Qatar flight – the WiFi is very good, BUT they have priced it at $10/flight – which for a long flight from USA to Doha is almost nothing. The net result was that there were almost 200 users connected, using up all of the available bandwidth!
From my (very selfish aspect, obviously) I would love to see Qatar to push their WiFi pricing way up! Thus many of those who want to watch cat videos or stream anything because they are bored would think twice if they had to pay $50 for the privilege…
From a business aspect, I would willingly pay that amount – or more – to get decent internet access. Obviously I am in a minority, but it is frustrating when a limited resource (bandwidth) is getting utilized for nonproductive purposes. No doubt others will have different opinions!
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