In-flight Internet is almost the holy grail of the telecommunications industry. It's been so slow and so spotty forever, but there's almost nowhere on the planet you'd rather watch Netflix than on a plane. That dream is now closer to reality after a new FAA decision.
The satellite system 2Ku was approved last April for in-flight Wi-Fi up to 9.8 megabits per second (Mbps), but the FAA just permitted a new 2Ku satellite system that can run a whopping 70 Mbps.
This jump in speed is like going from dial-up to wireless. It's much faster and much easier to hold a connection. Over 2,000 planes from airlines like American, Delta and Virgin America all use Gogo, the in-flight Wi-Fi system that's about to get a major overhaul.
According to FAA documents and illustrations, planes will be equipped with a main satellite transmitter and receiver at the front of the plane, then several Wi-Fi receivers along the remainder of the cabin.
These gadgets will provide the whole plane with a lighting-fast Internet connection that will help you stream videos, listen to music and surf the Web like you've never been able to before. But most good news doesn't come without fine print - and this new Gogo Wi-Fi upgrade is no exception.
Even though the Internet speeds will be much faster, the price will scare you half to death.
Gogo plans to increase its already costly prices, which run about $40 on Mondays and Thursdays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays all cost $34 for a Gogo Wi-Fi connection and Saturdays cost the least, running about $28 (depending on the length of your flight).
“We’re starting to have millions of users, so it’s getting more and more congested, and we have raised prices, which you typically do when you have more demand than you have supply,” Michael Small, the chief executive of Gogo, told the New York Times in an interview.
“There’s nothing to apologize for. We have trouble finding a business in America that does anything differently,” Small concluded.