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BA may soon link to 4G to provide inflight Internet
Friday 24 April 2015 09:26:53 by Andrew Ferguson

It appears that while inflight Internet has been growing a significant change may soon be about to take place. At this time most inflight Internet access is via a satellite based connection with the inherent latency delays and from experience very little actual bandwidth.

It would appear that BA is planning to offer inflight 4G with links to ground based 4G masts, significantly reducing the latency and in theory offering a lot more bandwidth. Being able to post selfies over 4G while flying at 30,000 feet may be a trivial thing, but for business travellers being able to email and remotely work can make the time spent flying more productive.

What is a little unusual is that the service may launch on UK domestic routes first. This does avoid issues around how roaming is handled, plus long haul routes crossing oceans will eventually lose line of sight to 4G masts and fall back to satellite only systems.

Comments

Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
Only take a couple of minutes to leave the range of a 4G transmitter surely, with decreasing bandwidth, so still going to be satellite over oceans unless they start putting base stations out at sea.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Probably why launching on domestic routes first.
Posted by SaticICE about 1 year ago
So, what next? Installing 4G on Oil Rigs and floating man made islands tethered to the sea bed lines?
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
They will be in a Jumbo Not Spot when they fly over West Chiltington.
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
I suppose 30,000 feet is about 10 Km so well within the range of LTE.
A macro cell can do up to 30 Km with reasonable performance.
I assume it would be fitted to existing cell sites but with their antennas pointing upwards?
Wouldn't need that many to provide decent coverage since it would be line of sight at all times.
Just a guess.
Posted by rtho782 about 1 year ago
I wonder how well cell to cell handover will work when travelling at 400mph+!
Posted by radiomarko about 1 year ago
Having experienced the awful 4G linked free wifi on First Great Western trains I can only say good luck BA at 400mph!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
I would presume directional antenna on the planes or lots of small ones and it picks the optimal one.

Have tested in-flight broadband, but not gone a train with the 4G options yet.
Posted by Hubz about 1 year ago
I believe these solutions use special base stations on special spectrum under flight paths with antennae that point straight up, as clearly traditional operator macrocells dont cover altitudes of several thousand feet.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
There are US domestic airlines which have rolled this out already and I am told it works OK.
Rather the focus was getting 4G working on the ground outside major cities 1st.
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