Some of us can remember a time before cell phones were omnipresent. At first, you had to carry around a suitcase to make a call. Then things got more streamlined and barriers started being removed. Cell phones worked in office blocks all of a sudden. Then they worked in the metro. Then they worked on commercial airliners. Well, they did sometimes. If you could live with a hideously slow connection and intermittent coverage.
I know. What an outrage, right? If I want to watch cat videos at 35,000ft, I should be able to do that. I planned to binge on Game of Thrones but my abominable connection won’t let me do it while I’m in the air. What the hell is this? The Stone Age? Why hasn’t anyone solved the problem of high-speed internet on my flight?
Well, gentle reader, your days of having to live with this crippling First World Problem are numbered. Thales have teamed with SES to provide you with some satellite backed internet goodness that will help you from ever having to engage with the real world in any meaningful way ever again. Saints be praised!
FlytLIVE is coming. Oh yes it is. Well, it is if you live in the Americas. No-one can be bothered to sort out connectivity for the rest of the world but that’s OK because ‘Murica. This service will offer you “full Internet services including video streaming, games, social media and live television, creating an immersive and engaging experience in the air.”
In fairness, in-flight entertainment has been pretty stagnant since the 90s. I have been struck by how screens have not yet upped their pixel density nor the resolution of the content that’s on offer (at least not in any of the recent flights I’ve been on. Maybe the Quality get a better experience). Swapping out a pre-loaded content package for a stream-your-own service would be a big step up.
However, it’s not cheap to put these services into operation. When you read that FlytLIVE will be “equipped with close to 200 spot beams of mixed size for more flexible allocation of capacity over high-traffic airline routes and field-of-view beams to enable the most efficient delivery of Internet, live broadcast television and real-time content delivery” you can imagine that it won’t come cheap.
So will this just be for the super rich in their Lears and Gulfstreams? Meh, probably not. These services would only be profitable if there were a large-scale uptake; large enough to justify close to 200 spot beams, for example. This would suggest that Thales have already got heads of agreement with various airlines to upgrade to their service.
And when will you be able to enjoy this in-flight data dump? Summer of 2017, say Thales.