Battle for inflight wi-fi ready to start

Faster wi-fi in future via satellite-based services
A new battle in the skies is set to begin, as airlines scramble to offer faster inflight internet access via satellite-based wi-fi services.
Until now, inflight wi-fi on most airlines has been so slow, it’s better just sticking to the inflight magazine. But new satellite-based Wi-Fi is likely to change this, as providers like Inmarsat, Viasat, Gogo, Panasonic and Global Eagle Entertainment compete to launch services.
“Existing solutions have not met market expectations. Despite all of the happy talk, the state of play is an inconsistent patchwork,” says Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation.
In the US, wi-fi on domestic routes is widespread using air-to-ground (ATG) technology, but this is often slow. In Europe, the different countries’ regulatory regimes has hindered any substantial ATG networks. Meanwhile, for many airlines, especially on short-haul routes, satellite-based systems have been too expensive. But satellite-based systems cross the world’s continents and oceans.
Inmarsat is completing final testing for its Global Express network using three satellites. Viasat is launching two high-powered satellites. And Panasonic is also looking at boosting its already superior satellite services.


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