Get Ready for Faster Inflight Wi-Fi

When it comes to inflight Wi-Fi, disappointment has been the name of the game. Relief is on the horizon, however, with new 2Ku WiFi systems coming soon to a handful of airlines.

When it comes to inflight Wi-Fi, disappointment has been the name of the game. Slow. Unreliable. And a generally dodgy value given the ratio of price to performance.

The solution to the current technology’s shortcomings, according to Gogo, is its new 2Ku system, which will replace the current air-to-ground approach by bouncing the wireless signal off plane-mounted antennae to space-based satellites. Gogo reports that 2Ku download speeds can be as high as 70 Mbps, up to 20 times faster than current speeds.

2Ku took a major step forward this week with the receipt of clearance from the FAA to begin inflight testing. Assuming the tests go as planned, Gogo expects to begin delivering the systems to airline customers later this year and have more than 500 aircraft fitted with 2Ku by the end of 2016.

Delta, for one, has already announced plans to have 250 of its planes—mostly narrow-body aircraft used on long-haul domestic, Latin American, and Caribbean flights—outfitted with 2Ku Wi-Fi. Six other airlines have committed to either a trial or fleet deployment of the new service.

Pricing for 2Ku Wi-Fi remains to be determined.

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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