Editor’s comment: Coming of age

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

The cohort that is Generation Z have known nothing but a lifetime of Wi-Fi, as this year marks the 20-year milestone of the technology.

By the year-end, it’s predicted that cumulative device shipments will reaching 30 billion – more than 4 billion Wi-Fi devices will ship this year alone, expanding Wi-Fi’s installed base to over 13 billion.

This year the Wi-Fi Alliance will introduce the latest generation of Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi 6 – which will begin to be integrated into more access points and consumer products, such as smart phones, to increase their speeds and performance and offer improved capabilities in congested environments including stadiums and aircraft.

Such secure and seamless connections are at the heart of the Seamless Air Alliance’s recent demonstration of Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi services to support IFC. Hotspot 2.0, also known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, is a standard for public-access Wi-Fi that enables seamless roaming among Wi-Fi networks and between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Mobile network operators all over the world use Hotspot 2.0 technology to automatically configure consumer devices to connect to select Wi-Fi networks at airports, hotels and other venues using the necessary encryption protocols and without any user interaction. In this same manner, Hotspot 2.0 credentials can be used to extend carrier networks for seamless in-flight connectivity to passengers of participating operators.

“Seamless Air Alliance will deliver industry advances that make our customers’ lives better. Seamless connectivity from ground to in-air provides an entirely new level of convenience, productivity and entertainment for travellers,” said Doug Smith, VP of Product Marketing and Innovation at Sprint, an Alliance member.

As airlines continue to invest in multi-million pound IFC deployments, the initiatives of member groups and the industry’s leading companies and operators are ensuring that an elevated wireless performance with no lag, buffering and high speeds are obtainable.


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