Wi-Fi at 30,000 Feet

May 2, 2008
Airlines have two options for providing Internet access on planes. One would use evdo or other cell-phone data protocols to communicate with terrestrial relay stations using the 800 MHz frequencies recently auctioned for air-to-ground voice and data use. The other uses Ku-band transponders, perhaps already carrying data services, for Internet access.

The first has lower latency, making it better for gaming, VPN and voice-over-IP telephony, while the second offers greater bandwidth without the expense of building out a ground network, although the delay (latency) through a geostationary satellite could make gaming, VPN and voice-over-IP difficult.

An article on IDG’s Nordic site, “Wi-Fi on Southwest, Alaska Airlines Flights Set to Take Off” has detailed information on how the Row44 airborne Internet access system will work. The system uses Ku-band frequencies and an antenna with 64 microwave horns located on top of the aircraft’s fuselage to connect to Hughes Network Systems transponders. Wi-fi access points provide a way for passengers to connect to the Internet. According to the article, the data rate available would be at least 30 Mbps and it would support VPN.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!

Comments

Twitter