It just got a whole lot easier to use gadgets and electronic devices inflight, at least over Europe. Just yesterday, the European Commission approved the usage of 3G and 4G services during flights over the European Union, a huge upgrade from the limited 2G turtle speeds from before. This development follows the heels of recent news that electronic devices will not need to be powered down during takeoffs and landings.
The faster speed will make it possible for passengers to perform higher-bandwidth gobbling activities such as watching videos and downloading larger files online. This will all be possible even above an altitude of a mile, sending internet capabilities to new heights. It should also make it possible for passengers to choose between connecting via 3G or 4G or to the airplane's own in-flight Wi-Fi.
The new ruling will make it possible for airlines to install its own in-flight 3G or 4G support, which ultimately depends on if they wish to do so. In order to support usage of the new upgraded speeds, each respective aircraft must install the necessary hardware to run it, including a Network Control Unit onboard the plane and an antenna capable of receiving satellite connection.
Considering the fact that many passengers favor using SMS and email over voice calling, it's very likely that most, if not all of the major airlines will soon be adopting 3G and 4G services.