Surfing above the clouds – will the internet soon get better on the plane?

Just a few years ago, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr flirted with how much he enjoyed the internet-free time on the plane. But meanwhile, most passengers want to work online above the clouds, posting posts on their social networks or streaming videos. The technical possibilities are still limited, some companies such as the budget airline Ryanair still offer Wifi / Wlan on board.

For the rest, the bandwidths are low, the prices are higher. The airlines are fixed in their price policy so on the highest possible additional income, that they also hold up for the already almost natural on the ground service hand far.

Strong price fluctuations

According to a survey of the digital association Bitkom from the summer, every eighth German (13 percent) in the plane has used the Internet. According to the representative survey, a further 52 percent of the respondents are of fundamental interest. Only about a third
– mostly older people – showed no interest in Internet during the flight.

The specialist portal Teltarif has analyzed a wide and unclear range of offers at various airlines. It is billed according to time, sometimes by data volume or by data speed. The prices also vary greatly from rare free offers for small amounts of data (Emirates) to fees of more than 50 euros, which are due at Swiss for a data packet of 220 megabytes. This can be used, for example, to stream music for four hours.


For some companies (Emirates, Singapore, SAS), the use of the on-board network is at least included for business and first-time customers.
Others leave the customers free only on their own advertising page. A special way flies Norwegian, which offers a free basic version and only for faster data delivery requires a surcharge.

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300 LTE base stations spark into the sky with Nokia technology

Deutsche Telekom mobile customers can dial in to Europe’s Lufthansa flights, Eurowings and Austrian flights without pre-booking, and pay 99 cents for 10 minutes. Outside Europe, the service is available on many routes from Lufthansa, KLM / Air France, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines and American Airlines.

Because of the high cost Bitkom expert advises Christopher Meinecke in general, before the flight to make clever about the respective offer of the airline. Also, you should consider what exactly you want to do with the device during the flight. On long-haul flights, Internet has been offered to passengers since 2003. Technically, the signals initially came exclusively via satellites in the jets, which move at high speeds usually at a distance of more than ten kilometers from the earth’s surface.

Only last year, a component on the ground was added in Europe: Around 300 LTE base stations of the “European Aviation Network (EAN)” spit out of 28 EU member states using Nokia technology and together with satellites from the British manufacturer Inmarsat hybrid network. According to Deutsche Telekom, it offers a transmission rate of currently 75 Mbit / second on board.
That’s clear enough for a live TV stream or video conferencing.

Lufthansa expresses interest

So far, however, only the British Airways parent IAG has opted for the new technology, which are gradually incorporated into the jets of the group airlines. Customers have already been able to use the service on around 35,000 flights, Telekom says. Although Lufthansa has certainly expressed interest and also the EAN technology for “well suited” explained. However, Lufthansa and Telekom have not yet been able to agree on the exact terms of the contract, as both sides confirm.

After all, 137 of the approximately 170 Lufthansa medium-haul aircraft in the Airbus A320 family still carry the heavy humpback antennas for conventional satellite radio. A renewed conversion seems quite expensive. The smaller and, above all, significantly lighter EAN antennas could therefore first be tested on the latest A320neo aircraft, which are currently entering the fleet after Airbus delivery problems.

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