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In-Flight Wi-Fi Expanding & Improving, But Is It Enough?

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Wi-fi is shaping up to be the most important in-flight amenity for travelers today, but current service is far from meeting expectations. The good news is the days of slow connections is starting to change. Virgin America has partnered with Gogo GTO, the in-flight broadband Internet service provider, to launch a new technology that will give passengers access to faster high-speed Wi-Fi in the air.

Gogo is seeking getting approval from Federal Aviation Administration for the new service in 2014, which is expected to be available during the second half of 2014

According to Gogo, its air-to-ground network originally delivered W-Fi at a speed of 3 Mbps per aircraft. The speed was later bumped up to 9.8Mbps. With the new hybrid technology, the speed will be able reach 60Mbps. It’s still to early to know if Netflix and Hulu will be available to flyers with this service.

While Virgin America will be the first airline to include this service, Go-go is planning to reach out to its other partners–American Airlines, Delta, United and others. JetBlue will roll out Wi-Fi service on its planes soon but will use ViaStat, a competing company’s solution.

Staying connected in the air is rapidly becoming one of the most important amenities an airline can offer its passengers. A recent study from Honeywell Aerospace, based on surveys of 3,000 adults in the U.S., UK and Singapore who have used Wi-Fi in the past 12 months, found an increasing demand for fast and consistent in-flight wireless connectivity.

According to the survey, Wi-Fi is one of the most important in-flight amenities, but demand is not being met:

  • More than one-third of Americans and Singaporeans and nearly half of Britons. who would give up an amenity would give up a preferred seat for a better Internet connection.
  • More than three in four fliers surveyed thought wireless access should always be available on planes.
  • Most fliers surveyed were disappointed by slow or inconsistent connections.
  • More than one third would be disappointed if wireless weren’t available on an international flight.

What do you think? How important is Internet on your flight? How long does a flight need to be before you pay for wireless? Do you use Wi-Fi in the sky for business or personal use? Share your comments below.

And don’t forget to check out our even more comprehensive guide broken down by airline and aircraft.

By Camilla Rambaldi for PeterGreenberg.com

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