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British Airways reveals ‘high-speed’ airplane Wi-Fi for short flights

British Airways has announced that it is finally bringing in-flight WI-Fi to short-haul flights.

The new “high speed” in-flight internet will roll out on British Airways flights next summer, along with flights from Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Vueling later in 2017. And by 2019, over 90% of British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) flights will be fitted with the Wi-Fi on board.

It’s all made possible thanks to satellite technology from Inmarsat, which will provide customers with internet access to use on mobile devices. According to Inmarsat, the speeds will be good enough to allow passengers to “use email, check social media and stream videos”. The pledge is that passengers will have sufficient bandwidth capacity to use multiple devices at the same time, and that “connection speeds will be similar to what they have at home.”

The European Aviation Network is a game changer for the millions of airline passengers that have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access during flights in Europe,” said Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation. “It will provide IAG airlines with unprecedented high-speed capacity by combining the strengths of Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity with a powerful ground network operated by our partner Deutsche Telekom.”

Up to 341 short-haul aircraft are going to be kitted out with the high-speed internet, 132 of which belong to British Airways. The first aircraft to fly with the connectivity on board will be a BA A321 craft. Speaking at the announcement, Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, said:

“We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft. Having announced Wi-Fi for long-haul flights earlier this year, we are now equipping our airlines’ short-haul fleets with in-flight broadband access. Connectivity is essential because it’s what our customers demand and IAG will be the first European airline group to offer high-quality air to ground Wi-Fi on short-haul flights.”

Related: CES 2017

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