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Tech advances will bring airborne WiFi says survey

WiFiFlight amenities-ranking website Routehappy recently released its annual survey which found that only 6% of WiFi-equipped flights worldwide offer a reliable and fast enough service to be classified as “best WiFi”.

However, new technologies that are due to be introduced during 2016 should see an improvement for holidaymakers, tourists and business travellers who want to use WiFi services whilst in the air, with more innovations in the pipeline for a 2017 roll out.

Direction is up

Jason Rabinowitz, Routehappy's Data Research Manager, said: “We have to wait and see how fast airlines can install it on their aircraft, but the direction is definitely up.”

His optimism is based on new innovations from the likes of market leader Gogo, which introduced its new 2Ku satellite-based WiFi upgrade technology towards the end of last year.

Two earlier and slower offerings from the company, air-to-ground and Ku, had various limitations that the new system aims to overcome.

For instance, 2Ku more than doubles the bandwidth offered by its predecessor Ku, according to the company, which has already equipped approximately 2,500 planes with WiFi connectivity. 

Backlog

Gogo has an 800-order backlog for upgrades to 2Ku service and Aeromexico has already begun employing 2Ku technology, Gogo spokesman Steve Nolan explained.

Nolan also revealed that Virgin Atlantic is next in line for Gogo's 2Ku rollout and Delta plans to equip more than 250 aircraft with 2Ku antennas in a process which is set to start by the end of March.

Routehappy's Rabinowitz said that during a test flight he was on last year 2Ku worked “moderately well” and added “it was definitely better than your traditional global-coverage WiFi”.

The next in-flight WiFi innovation is expected in April when Panasonic Avionics, which has United, American, Emirates and Lufthansa airlines as customers, will launch a service contract which will offer bandwidth as high as 200 Mbps.

Their system works via a new satellite which will deliver a WiFi signal via spot beams targeted at portions of the world that have the highest volumes of airline traffic. 

Don't forget you can use your own WiFi device to arrange your Worldwide Travel Insurance online. 

Date Created: 17 February 2016

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