Signals to be better and faster on board
As many an international flyer can testify, Wi-Fi service on board jets isn't nearly so fast as the sort of service people are used to on the ground.
That's about to change.
The internet has become such an indispensable part of life in China, and the idea of in-flight Wi-Fi is so popular among Chinese passengers, that 90 percent of those surveyed said the availability of onboard connectivity would influence their choice of airlines, according to Inmarsat, a London-based provider of global satellite communication services.
Currently, in-flight Wi-Fi mostly relies on the KU band, which makes it susceptible to instability and lost connections during a flight, especially when the airplane is flying over oceans. Such Wi-Fi service is acceptable for sending text messages and photos, but not ideal for, say, watching videos.
The latest high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi operates on the KA band, and the internet speed of such Wi-Fi will be 10 to 100 times faster than what's currently available, providing the same internet speed and reliability that passengers can get in their homes and offices.
US aerospace company Honeywell said it is in talks with Air China and Hainan Airlines about upgrading Wi-Fi services on their commercial flights in China, though the Chinese authority has not yet approved the use of such Wi-Fi in the market.
"Passengers will be able to watch videos during a flight, and have access to real-time TV, high-speed broadband internet, video conferencing, emails and other applications," said Andy Gill, senior director of business and aviation in Asia-Pacific at Honeywell Aerospace.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, New Zealand Airlines and SriLankan Airlines have installed such Wi-Fi services on their flights.
Many other airlines have already or are about to use it, including Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Air Astana, according to Honeywell.
"In the long term, the in-flight Wi-Fi services will not only bring benefits to customers and airlines, it could be an important opportunity for the aviation industry and is expected to leverage the improvement of industry data processing and information sharing," said Paul Nef, director of ATM initiatives and services and connectivity at Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific.
A modern aircraft could produce about 20TB of data per hour, and most data is not used effectively now. In the future, high-speed and stable in-flight Wi-Fi is expected to help connect, process and utilize those data and information to make an aircraft more intelligent, Nef said.
By 2035, connected aircraft will become universal, and the market is expected to be worth $130 billion, which will benefit airlines, hardware equipment providers, content providers, retailers and advertisers, according to a research by Inmarsat and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Also by 2035, the auxiliary income of airlines in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to increase by $10.3 billion, European airlines are set to gain $8.2 billion and US airlines are expected to net $7.6 billion, the research found.