There’s no denying that in-flight Wi-Fi is not exactly all that it’s hyped up to be. It may be nice to be able to stay in contact with family and friends while you’re 35,000ft in the air, but there’s nothing worse than paying up to £20 for internet speeds that don’t even reach the double digits. That’s barely enough to watch a film or TV show on Netflix in HD, which is what most of us really want to do on a long-haul flight.
Thankfully, the end of woefully inadequate in-flight Wi-Fi is nigh. That’s thanks to a partnership between Delta, GoGo and Sprint which should hopefully see broadband-level internet connections in the sky. The partnership is being called the Seamless Air Alliance, and it launched at MWC 2018.
The Alliance’s proposals aren’t exactly radical. It still wants to take advantage of satellites to provide the planes with an internet connection, but it wants to change how users connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi. Instead of requiring credit card details and authenticating each device individually, the companies want to come up with a way where connecting to in-flight Wi-Fi is completely seamless.
In order to achieve its goals, the Seamless Air Alliance wants to develop ‘uniform hardware and operating standards for airlines’. This should hopefully make the installation of networking equipment easier, while it should give passengers a consistent experience no matter which airline they choose to fly with.
Competition in the aviation networking space has already led to better speeds and cheaper connections, but it’s thought that standardisation could drive that change even faster. It wasn’t long ago that coffee shops and public spaces charged for Wi-Fi, while now the majority are free. It’s thought that someday airlines could also offer the service free, as it will become a regular amenity like free drinks or a free meal. It could also save airlines money should they choose to get rid of the regular in-flight entertainment system.
While Delta is currently the only airline taking part in the alliance, its sway on the European aviation industry is huge. The airline owns a stake in both Air France and Virgin Atlantic, meaning it already has the ability to push its goals onto airlines all around the globe. That’s good news for passengers, right?