Even faster in-flight Wi-Fi is coming. Gogo Inc., the leading airline ISP is planning to roll out a new system that will boost Wi-Fi speeds to six times over. Virgin America will be the first carrier to use Gogo's new 60 megabits per second — current speeds max out around 10 megabits per second) — in-flight Wi-Fi staring in mid-2014. From there, the company plans to trick out its fleet of 53 planes with the faster surfing speeds.
Just last week, JetBlue Airways Corp. got the green light from the government to install a high-capacity satellite link that would enable them to provide Wi-Fi that would allow fliers to use their video streaming services right on their own devices.
The previously Internet-less airline decided to go with an ISP that uses the high-cap Ka-band spectrum, ViaSat Inc, which uses a different connection than Gogo's. While JetBlue plans to charge fliers for streaming their own video due to the increased bandwidth it would use, basic Internet browsing will be gratis (subject to change, of course, as they deliberate pricing). So far, that's a great deal compared to Virgin's Gogo service, which will charge fliers $14 for a one-day pass and $50 for a monthly one to use their internet.
Both airlines' addition of upgraded Wi-Fi services now possess speeds that are comparable to those on the ground. The average connection on the ground is around 8.6 mbps. JetBlue claims that their new service will be providing up to 12 mbps to just one person's device, not collectively to the airplane, which is the reason why in-flight internet is so unreliable. Currently, if a certain amount of passengers are logged on — for example, if only ten users are online, the connection will be fine — but if five more people join, the service slows down.
However, since video streaming uses considerably more bandwidth, JetBlue's promise may not hold, especially if all 80 passengers on board are streaming at the same time. Like anything with airlines, it's a work in progress. Hopefully they'll work on their in-flight snacks too — I'm sick of only getting peanuts and those nasty Biscoff cookies!