Staring into the aisle or reading the newspaper might be the only things left to do when you are 30,000ft above ground in the air. In a lifestyle which revolves around technology completely, sparing even few hours without Internet can intimidate us. In-flight Wi-Fi is the solution to our in-flight urge to use internet. It has been there for a few years and finally on Friday, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has approved the innovation.
How on-board Wi-Fi will work?
Broadly, this can be segregated into two methodologies. One is ground to air service and the other is via satellite signals.
In ground to air service, there are towers on the ground that are constantly transmitting signals and the planes have antennas that receive the signals from different network towers. But, this method is not efficient as every time airplane switches from one tower to another, there is a breakage in between.
The satellite way is different. The planes connect directly to satellites; they in turn pick up the signals from ground and transmit those signals to planes. This method is highly efficient but is expensive as well.
What will be the cost?
As you have seen the complexity in the technology involved, you can guess that in-flight Wi-Fi is expensive from on-ground Wi-Fi. TRAI has decided to keep the charges as per the international standards. Travellers may have to spend at least 20 to 30 per cent of the fare to use in-flight data connectivity. Estimated cost is from 500 INR to 1,000 INR for thirty minutes to one hour.
Airlines will have to pay very hefty amount of money to avail in-flight internet connectivity. Consequently, it’s challenging for low cost-carriers to bring Wi-Fi in their flights.
Can I get in-flight Wi-Fi for free?
Yes, looks like there are plenty of airlines that offer free internet services. Some are Bangkok-based Nok Air, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Turkish Airlines, US’s JetBlue Airways, China’s Air China, China Eastern, and Hong Kong Airlines.
Generally, it is seen that free Wi-Fi is for a limited time and has frequent disruptions.
What’s in it for you?
In-flight Wi-Fi can stretch your working hours if you are a professional. You can stay in touch with other people even during a flight. You will be able to call others and even receive calls. You can e-mail people or even send text messages to them. What about watching your favorite show on Netflix? Or just browse through Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Snapchat. There are plenty of opportunities to choose from.
How’s the future?
In-flight Wi-Fi is not a completely new concept as many leading airlines across the globe have been offering on board Wi-Fi for long. Predictions are that half of the aircrafts will get equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi after six years. The technology is all set to become a billion dollar revenue industry by 2020.