Milestone: Delta Now Has In-Flight Wi-Fi On Flights From Africa

Milestone: Delta Now Has In-Flight Wi-Fi On Flights From Africa

Delta Airlines this week completed the roll-out of Wi-Fi on its international fleet, a milestone for the airline, Citi FM Online reported. The airline says it now operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi equipped fleet.

That means customers flying nonstop from Africa to Atlanta and New York can, in theory, stay connected for a fee at 30,000 feet when they fly Delta.

The reality is, in-flight Wi-Fi may sound like a great way to keep in touch with friends and family or catch up on work, but generally, services are often slow, Reuters reported in April.

Travelers can buy get Wi-Fi access on more than a third of available seats worldwide, with around 60 airlines offering it. But just 6 percent of the flights with Wi-Fi have connectivity that compares to a home broadband service and allows for data-rich use such as video streaming.

Delta’s final Boeing 777 – one of several serving South Africa – is now equipped with on-demand Wi-Fi throughout the aircraft, marking a new milestone for the airline with flights from Accra, Dakar, Lagos and Johannesburg, Citi FM reported.

The service went live today, Oct. 5, according to Citi FM.

“We know that Wi-Fi is an important part of the travel experience, especially for those flying for business,” said Jimmy Eichelgruen, Delta’s sales director for Africa, the Middle East and India. “With Wi-Fi available in every cabin, all our customers can stay in touch with events on the ground throughout their journey.”

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Wi-Fi on U.S. domestic flights is already common although air-to-ground technology can mean slow service. In Europe, regulations have hindered substantial air-to-ground networks, while satellite-based systems have until now been too expensive for short-haul routes, according to Reuters. That could be changing.

Competition is heating up for capacity and customers among new satellite-based Wi-Fi companies such as Inmarsat Plc, Viasat Inc, Gogo Inc, Panasonic and Global Eagle Entertainment Inc, according to Reuters.

Satellite-based systems can provide coverage everywhere including over oceans, where air-to-ground falls short. More and more high-powered rigs are being sent into orbit, adding to the available capacity, and driving prices down.

Delta says its Wi-Fi is high-speed and powered by Ku-Band satellite technology provided by Gogo. One hour’s use on a laptop is $6.95. A day pass can be purchased in advance for $28. Customers can also have free access to on-demand entertainment via Delta Studio, which includes in-flight streaming for movies and TV shows on mobile devices.

Delta began installing Wi-fi on U.S. domestic aircraft in 2008. The airline says it operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi equipped fleet.

Four satellite companies — Intelsat SA, SES SA, Eutelsat Communications SA and Telesat — have dominated the business for decades by beaming TV across the globe. Now the added supply is boosting services like in-flight Wi-Fi and Internet access in remote areas, but driving down prices, Bloomberg reported:

Lower costs could help companies like Panasonic Corp. and Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., which buy excess capacity on some of the 450 geostationary satellites orbiting Earth and sell it as services like airline Wi-Fi.