Spot-beam satellite tech promises better in-flight Wi-Fi

The technology will be introduced by JetBlue flights next month, and will be rolled out to other airlines in the coming year.

JetBlue

Several satellite companies are looking to improve the availability of Wi-Fi while you're in-flight, according to a new report.

Starting next month, JetBlue Airways will connect to satellites that employ so-called spot-beam technology, Bloomberg is reporting. Spot-beam technology is considered the next evolution of in-flight Wi-Fi and delivers a better, more-targeted signal to aircraft. That technology is expected to offer far more reliability for in-flight Wi-Fi.

Wireless access has been available in airplanes for some time. However, travelers have found that the connections are spotty and often fall out for seemingly no reason. Major dead zones also cause some trouble.

ViaSat, a company specializing in satellite-based Wi-Fi, is delivering the enhanced spot-beam technology to JetBlue. According to Bloomberg, another firm, Inmarsat, will offer up three spot-beam satellites worldwide in 2014, making it much easier for more airlines to ramp up their Wi-Fi connections.

Still, there's a long a way to go: in-flight Wi-Fi is only available on 40 percent of North American flights.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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