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How Does Airplanes Wifi Works

    How airplane wifi works

    WiFi has become quite popular in India and people are connected to the internet through WiFi, but very soon the WiFi facility will be available in the Indian aircraft for domestic as well as international services. The Indian government has given its approval to operate wifi in planes. TRAI has suggested operating in flight airplane wifi  with at least 3000 meters high.

    There are already some aircraft companies which provides airplane wifi services in their planes and operating in some developed countries:

    Ex: British Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Air France, Air Canada…etc.

    However Indian govt was not giving permission to operate Inflight or airplane wifi in India due to security reasons. But now the government has given its approval and within few months this service will start. All flyers will able to connect with their family members during travel. That’s interesting. But do you know the technology behind it, how wifi works in airplanes?



    Two types of technology are used to operate WiFi in the airplane.

    1. ATG- Air to ground transmission.
    2. Satellite transmission.

    GOGO is one of the top service technology providers in both these.


    This technology is based on mobile technology. Just like our mobile phone has an antenna and that antenna is connected to the antenna of our nearest tower, for signal transfer. In the same way, the aircraft also has antennae, which exchanges signals from the tower’s antenna. Whenever the flight turns on its ATG mode, the aircraft starts getting the signal of its control tower and thus the signals of the passenger’s mobile phone also started receiving and sending signals.

    The biggest problem in this technology came when the fight goes above any sea. The tower cannot send the signal at that time,  that is why this technology is mostly used in domestic tourism.

    At the moment, if you talk about speed, then on average, the speed of 3 Mbps is given, which is enough for surfing like Facebook, Whatsapp, Gmail..etc. Currently, Gogo is doing research in it and the speed in its latest ATG-4 is quite impressive, which can go up to 10 Mbps.


















    In this technology, the satellites that live in the Geostationary Orbit (35,786km above the planet), which send and receive signals to earth via receivers and transmitters are used for transferring the signal. That means the aircraft receives a signal directly from the space. Its coverage area is very bigger as compared to ATG, and it receives signals every time.


    3 types of frequency bands are used:

    Ku-band, Ka-band, L-band


    Its coverage area is very good and it is able to transmit signals almost everywhere. Passengers are connected with the signal almost every time, even if they are passing over out-of-range or above the ocean. Its speed is great and can go up to 20-40mbps. However, it all depends on satellite serving number of aircraft.

    some service provider for Ku-band: GoGo, Panasonic, Global Eagle

















    It promises better speed than any other, as in this band satellite will be equipped with multiple transponders. Its speed can go up to 70mbs and mostly used in military communication. In this, you can stream video.


    This is very slow and will go up to 422kbps.


     Comparision between ATG & Satellite transmission:

    • while ATG is specially designed for domestic travel and Satellite for international travel, ATG speed is quite slow as compared to satellite. However, ATG-4 comes with the improved speed up to 10mbps which claim to stream video.
    • Satellite transmission is much costlier then ATG, but its coverage area is larger than ATG.


    The US had warned in a report that the aircraft which has in-flight Wi-Fi, hacking from the systems of aircraft can be much easier. It has been said in the report that Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered as a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which means that the danger is open.



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