High-Speed Internet Connections on Airplanes


The Internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, however, there are still places where you cannot access websites, update your Facebook profile or make a phone call. So far only few airlines have been offering internet access on their planes and have been charging a lot for this service. This is about to change as more and more planes become equipped with in-flight internet.

Another problem is that the speed of wi-fi connections is much slower compared to surfing on the ground. Surfing the net on a plane can be a very troubling experience, certainly not the same as high-speed broadband internet access at home.



Telecommunications companies are planning to launch new satellites into orbit which would improve Internet access for plane passengers. A British-based project, called Global Xpress, calls for a satellite network that would cover the whole globe and make wireless internet fast and cheap. It would be available everywhere, even over the oceans.

In-flight wi-fi isn't new. It has been around for about ten years. After 9/11 however it came to a stop because of the high costs and economic problems that airlines were getting into. Boeing, the company that provided the service with the help of geostationary satellites and onboard receivers cancelled the project in 2006, mainly because not enough airlines wanted to use it.



But in the past few years onboard internet has been on the rise again as passengers are getting used to being connected all the time, even in the sky.

Global Xpress promises speeds of up to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) for downloading and 5 Mbps for uploading content. Even if the service does not reach such speeds it would be much faster than internet on planes today.

Another firm, American-based Gogo, already provides internet access through mobile phone stations on the ground. The disadvantage is that this only works over landmasses and not on trans-oceanic flights. Experts argue that such services would come to a standstill if more and more passengers used the internet on a regular basis.

That leaves the satellite method as the only way to access the internet on a global basis. The new system will provide internet access on higher frequencies which will enable high-speed connections. Passengers not only want internet access but they also expect the same speed and reliability that they get at home.



Related Topics



  • 9/11 = the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001
  • access = enter, get into
  • argue = to give clear reasons that something is true
  • available = to be had, exist
  • broadband = to move information over the Internet at a very high speed
  • calls for = plan
  • cancel = stop
  • charge = you must pay for something
  • content = text, images, music etc..
  • cover = here work in
  • disadvantage = the bad side of something
  • enable = allow
  • equip = install
  • essential = very important
  • experience = here: work
  • geostationary satellite = object in space that moves with the earth and always stays in the same position above it
  • global = worldwide
  • globe = earth
  • however = but
  • in-flight = on board a plane
  • landmass = continent
  • launch = start, send into space
  • offer = here: give to a passenger
  • orbit = to go around
  • receiver = machine that gets and understands radio signals
  • regular basis = all the time, very often
  • reliability = to be able to trust something and depend on it
  • service = something that a company lets you use
  • standstill = stop working
  • surf = browse the internet
  • trans-oceanic = across the ocean
  • troubling = worrying
  • wi-fi = wireless connection