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In flight WiFi on Airlines: Is it needed?

WiFi is the key to the access internet when you are inside your home or offices. Be it for the regular social media updates or business emails or some entertainment, you always want to be connected.  Same is the case even when you are on the go. For the travel in the land, cellular networks like 3G, 4G are mostly there to serve for your needs.  Even 2G connection is sometimes enough for you. Now public buses have also included Free or charged WiFi inside. Whereas for traveling in air, you are not getting any cellular mobile signals. So all you have to rely is on some sort of communication system within the aircraft.

Airline operators have already started providing inflight Wi-Fi service, from quite some years. Previously it was taken to be only for tech savvy users. But with the increased usage and dependency on Wi-Fi, most people look forward to this service inside flights.  Now that Nepal Airlines are also adding some new wide body Airbus, we wonder if they have also thought of incorporating this service. Or at least this post could provide feedback for them.

Some flights provide nominal data volume or time as free WiFi, some provide it free according to the mileage and some charge it heavily for more data. So, are you ready to pay for the in-flight WiFi when you are traveling up the air.

How is the in-flight WiFi possible?

Fig 1: Satellite connection to Aircraft

Airplanes need to have the same communication system for WiFi as we have it at our home. But the standalone WiFi system needs to be connected to the internet. That is possible by communicating either through cell towers in land (ATG, Air to Ground connection) or Satellites connections. The system also should be extra rugged for environmental effects and fast speed. There has been data speed of either few Mbps to tens for the whole of the aircraft.

Highly directional antennas are realized to make the communication reach to such high levels. The cell towers from land is still not reliable when the aircraft goes through ocean which is quite possible. That time, only satellite connections can make it possible. New technologies have been devised to include 4G for the communication inland to the aircraft. That will significantly increase the speed and let people use multimedia on board. Gogo is one of such connectivity providers using cell towers from land.

Fig 2: Air to Ground ATG connection for In flight WiFi

Apart from Wi-Fi, some airlines also provide GSM cellular connectivity in flights. You will get regular GSM connections in your mobile. The charges are same as that of international roaming.

Do you think you need this sort of service when you are up the ground. Please comment below.

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