Inflight WiFi Over Water: When Will We See It?

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As I made my 9 plus hour flight yesterday I got to thinking about how different a flight it would have been if there was WiFi connectivity while we were over water.

Most everyone who flies these days knows that WiFi is possible over the Continental US because the system uses cell phone towers to get the connectivity to and from the aircraft.  In fact it is more the exception these days to not have WiFi available on a domestic flight – the exact opposite of how it was just a couple of years ago.

The one area they have not got covered so far is when a flight is overwater.

Well a quick look at Google turns up some results that shows a small amount of progress is being made in providing this type of service.

Back in December 2010 Lufthansa launched a new in flight WiFi service on some of their transcontinental routes that uses their system called FlyNet.  Although it is currently limited to select North American routes they expect to have their entire fleet running by the end of 2011.

Other airlines have looked at a company called Row 44 which provides inflight connectivity services with the major difference in their system being they use satellites instead of ground stations.  Of course this allows them to offer service over water but it is also more expensive than the ground based solutions such as GoGo Inflight offers the airlines they are servicing.

At some point the price of providing satellite based service should come down as does the cost of most any technology as it matures and develops in the market.

I just wonder when that will be.

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