Wi-Fi connectivity on domestic flights is becoming common place in the United States, but on those long international flights web access remains frustratingly out of reach.
That may change soon, following recent successful tests of Honeywell and Inmarsat’s ka-band satellite connectivity. The GX Aviation Broadband tests, conducted from a UK base this month, enabled continuous connectivity over land and water.
Testers were able to access YouTube-streaming, video conferencing, live radio and file down with speeds similar to that of a home broadband connection – another major differentiator compared with existing in-flight Wi-Fi options.
The tests follow earlier experiments completed on the ground in March and demonstrated reliable connectivity between the plane and Inmarsat’s first Global Xpress satellite, I-5 F1. The satellite covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“We are on the cusp of a new era of connectivity in the skies, and the successful testing of our JetWave hardware with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network is a critical step in getting this service ready for public use,” said Jack Jacobs, vice president of Safety and Connectivity at Honeywell Aerospace (via Engadget).
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Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale added: “These flight tests are an exciting step towards the launch of GX Aviation and bringing a true broadband experience to the market. With GX Aviation, airlines and their passengers can finally experience a connectivity service equivalent to what they are used to on the ground.”
Of course, it’s likely to be a while before the service is complete and even longer before it’s widely adopted by airlines, but the days of struggling with Wi-Fi withdrawal while airborne may finally be coming to an end.