As the proliferation of small cells and their roll-out continues to gain traction, Wi-Fi is an emerging golden child. Unfortunately, however, Wi-Fi is not an inherently mobile technology, so when Wi-Fi becomes mobile, it is worth having a look at. Unlike cellular networks, Wi-Fi networks have not achieved any level of seamlessness and roaming – but, it is fast approaching that gate, literally. On that note, Southwest airlines has taken the moniker of being the first airline to enable passengers to use Wi-Fi gear during take-offs and landings AND…in the air.
What makes this such a newsworthy item is that up to now, the airlines have claimed that electronics can interfere with sensitive RF equipment on board (although there was never any conclusive evidence of that). So, perhaps, Southwest has seen the light or they have found that using satellite technology eliminates potential interference issues. Either way, it is resoundingly good news for travelers.
The in-flight Wi-Fi is delivered via technology provided by a company called Global Eagle Entertainment that claims to be the leading full service platform offering both content and connectivity for the worldwide airline industry.
And all of this is starting to come about because the FAA paved the way for the use of smart devices such as smartphones and tablets during takeoff and landing with an October 31 ruling allowing the use of such electronics. Finally, after years of kvetching from gadget-loving travelers and business people, alike, it’s all Wi-Fi, all the time and anywhere.