You step inside a flight in India and once the plane is about to take off, your mobile phones just stop mattering. There’s no internet service for you at 35,000 feet. Hence, your life stops right there.

But that is about to change in 2017, with various domestic airlines prepping up to roll out in-flight Wi-Fi with speeds as good as 5 Mbps. Not bad, eh?

Stay Online Sky-High

Honeywell Aerospace India says that by the end of 2017, we are hopeful that Indian airline operators will be able to offer in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity JetWave’. The prices will vary according to the airlines and offerings that the passenger selects. Current In-flight internet charges differ from $1 for 600mb to $ 20 for an unlimited plan.

You’ll be pleased to know India is getting the latest standard available, offering fast speed internet.

Ku-band satellite communication systems have been used by airlines for in-flight Wi-Fi since 2004. It works on 12–18 GHz spectrum.

However, the growing need for more data bandwidth and speed at a lower cost has resulted in airlines moving to the new network standard.

So, now that we know how in-flight Wi-Fi works, it is also vital to know the technology that powers this connectivity.

Engineers fitting in-flight Wi-Fi router on a test Boeing B757 plane. 

(Photo Courtesy: Honeywell Aerospace)

Meet Ka Band: The Future of In-Flight Wi-Fi

Honeywell Aerospace India  with Ka Band which works on 26.5–40 GHz spectrum, in-flight Wi-Fi is capable of receiving speeds up to 3700 Mbps per satellite, which can transmit as many as 50 beams. The speed will be 4 times more compared to previous network similar to that of 4G.

You can:-

Send and receive emails and messages

Browse internet at high speeds

Watch HQ videos

Make and receive phone calls.

This is how the in-flight Wi-Fi routers is affixed to the Boeing B757 test plane. 

(Photo Courtesy: Honeywell Aerospace)

Challenges for In-Flight Wi-Fi in India

With the help of firms like Honeywell, the Civil Aviation Ministry, along with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Government of India (DGCA) have finally got the confidence to go ahead with this technology. The work that is to be done for airlines to get required approvals from the ministry.

The airlines in India will have to bring software and hardware capability to its fleet. This increases the weight of the airlines. It is doable for long haul and big aircraft, but it is difficult for the narrow body/short haul flights 

Also there will be a need for airlines to focus on the security bit that comes along when using data connectivity.

Airline operators should have the ability to zero down on any message transmitted by using in-flight Wi-Fi. It should be able to track down Instant Messenger (IM) addresses. Globally, few airlines have the ability to track the IM addresses already.

That’s where the privacy trouble starts posing serious questions, but I guess that’s the price you pay when it comes to national security.

But it’s good to see that the DGCA and the Civil Aviation Ministry have given the go-ahead, now it is up to the airlines to get their systems upgraded at the earliest.

So, are you excited about the prospect of staying connected even while you’re flying? We sure can’t wait to test it out soon.

 

Guess which airline in India will be the first to add up this technology?

 

By Jwalant Swadia

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