Connected sky: surfing the web above the clouds
A recent deal between the British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat and one of the biggest global aviation suppliers, Honeywell, may help give in-flight connectivity speed a boost.
Inmarsat plans to launch three satellites into orbit in the years to come, with the first one planned for 2013. The firm says the project, called Global Xpress, will provide global coverage and essentially make in-flight Wi-fi fast, cheap, reliable, and available anywhere, even on long-haul flights.
The promised speeds are 50Mbps (megabits per second) for downloading content during flight and 5Mbps for uploading content.
Right now, U.S. firm Gogo is the most popular in-flight Wi-fi service provider in the world, equipping more than 85% of all North American airplanes. It uses existing mobile phone base stations, without a need for a satellite. Coverage is limited to aircraft flying over land.