Passengers boarding either a Cathay Pacific Airways or Dragonair jet in 2012 will be able to make use of broadband connectivity. This week, the airline confirmed an agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide broadband access across its entire fleet with download speeds of up to 50Mbps (to the aircraft – not individual passengers), as well as call and data access for cell phones.
With the improved communications system installed, future passengers will be able to access the web during flights using their own devices and seatback screens.
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Throughout the flight, online content will be updated regularly and, subject to a pay-per-view tariff, there will also be the chance to view live television and catch up on special events.
Being able to use your own mobile device during your trip is a huge bonus for anyone who wants to keep themselves entertained or catch up on work during a long haul trip. So, in collaboration with AeroMobile’s GSM technology, passengers will be able to use their cell phones to make calls or send SMS messages. If you’ve taken your iPod, iPhone or iPad on board the dolled up fleet, you will also be able to stream content wirelessly.
For added control, Panasonic Avionics eXPhone technology gives the airline the opportunity to over-ride access if they need to and restrict certain services where appropriate.
Cathay Pacific is currently waiting for regulatory approval before it begins installing the improved communications service on its planes. As long as there aren’t any hiccups in this regulatory stage, flight passengers could be enjoying broadband connectivity on flights by early 2012.
Competitor airlines Delta and Virgin currently offer a WiFi service on selected aircraft. For both of these airlines, passengers are obliged to pay for access during the flight. As a price guide, both charge $12.95 for access on journeys lasting more than three hours.