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Data connectivity on airplanes

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Travelling through air planes has been a phone-free zone. This has been a tradition since the very beginning. As soon as we hop on to the plane, we are expected to turn off our electronic devices and switch to magazines. This has been happening over the years and the reason behind it is to not let the radiation disturb the signals for the radiology of the aircraft. Being at this height, it is difficult for your own service providers to maintain a good strength of signal.

So, you shall notice that the moment you take off, your network goes away. But, after a  point this did infuriate the passengers.

Well, for the passengers travelling for unbearably long hours, and who have desperate needs of connectivity, internet connection on these flights become a necessity. Therefore, to curb this problem, the experts came up with solutions and collaborated with airplane companies to provide their customers this facility. Honestly, to avail the Wi-Fi on plane you do need to go heavy on your pocket. The set up is not easy, and they have put in some major technological efforts to make this work. Hence, they expect more than just a couple of pennies from you.

So, how does this Wi-Fi on plane even work. Well, there are several types of technology that have evolved for this purpose. Various airlines choose their own according to their needs and convenience.

The first one to consider is The air-to-ground (ATG) system, this one is indeed very similar to technology which delivers wireless Internet connection to our smartphones. Or similar to what out network providers provide us. This system includes an antenna which is attached to aircraft and that picks up signals from nearby towers and transmits it to the various connected devices.

A newer version for  Wi-Fi on flight is satellite technology. There are these receivers placed on the tip and head of the aircraft which capture the signals from the specific satellites and give away to other devices which include modems and radio transmitters. This technology is more preferred and gives a wider range of adaptability and connectivity than the air-to-ground (ATG) system.

There are certain airlines that have now been using a new technology including a Ka-band. It provides a band-width of 100 mhz through the satellite technology. It also has it’s own sets of receivers.

Well, if you’ve noticed, the speed of this internet that you receive is very slow. It is provided to you at the speed of 3 MHz whereas what you may receive at home is 15-160 Mhz, the air-to-ground (ATG) system is expected to deliver a speed of Mbps. And this too, since it is through wi-fi, it is shared amongst 100s of passengers that are on board.

Well, the connectivity is surely present. But, just not up to the mark. The connectivity on the plane is utterly important for some people, it keeps the business going. But, as a layman it may not he the most favourable thing to seek.


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