American Airlines has equipped its Boeing 737 fleet with WiFi connectivity from ViaSat to provide high-speed in-flight internet access.
Internet connectivity above the clouds requires the use of satellite connections, which ViaSat will provide through its two high capacity Ka-band satellites.
A third is due to be launched in 2019, which will double the bandwidth for in-flight internet connectivity, according to ViaSat.
The company claimed that its two first-generation satellite platforms offer more capacity than all of the commercial satellites over North America combined.
Passengers using in-flight WiFi on the Boeing 737s will be able to browse the web, stream videos and music, upload pictures and email large flies.
Mark Dankberg, ViaSat’s chief executive, explained that the WiFi network will provide the type of connectivity people normally experience in offices and at home, only some 30,000ft above the ground.
“Our satellite bandwidth enables an ’at home’ internet experience that can serve everyone on the plane, and empowers innovative business models for airlines and their passengers,” he said.
“We are delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to work with American Airlines and help fulfil its goal of delivering the best in-flight WiFi experience throughout its fleet.
"We believe we are now approaching the end of an era where passengers have paid very high prices for very slow connections. Our agreement highlights a significant initial step for American Airlines to deliver an onboard Wi-Fi experience every passenger will want to use.”
All this connectivity could raise cyber security concerns, given claims by a hacker that ports on the seats of long-haul aircraft allow access to flight systems.
However, in-flight WiFi can be isolated from other parts of a plane’s systems to project against cyber attacks, although unsecured devices connecting to an in-flight WiFi could be exposed to hackers lurking on the network.
No doubt American Airlines and ViaSat have considered this threat.
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