Web surfing while on an airplane has quickly gone from futuristic luxury to annoying hassle, as pointed out by comedian Louis C.K. in one of his best rants ever. The culprit: insufficient bandwidth from cellular towers that slows down as it is shared by several passengers, and that can’t handle the demands of streaming.
Gogo Inflight Internet, the largest provider of connectivity on airplanes, has announced that its new Wi-Fi service uses a combination of satellites and cell towers to provide access at speeds up to six times faster than the best currently available. Virgin America plans to offer the higher-speed Gogo service later next year.
JetBlue, meanwhile, has just received government approval to offer its own satellite-based Wi-Fi in partnership with a company called ViaSat, boasting speeds faster than anything else now in the air. The service will start appearing on planes later this year.
Airlines are clearly catering to business travelers with these offerings, but if you travel a lot for work you might want to think twice before logging on. Plenty of super-productive and creative people prize their unplugged time in the air for uninterrupted writing, networking with other passengers, or even (gasp!) reading a good book.