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Why isn’t In-Flight Entertainment Evolving?

Finnair Cabin
Finnair

In-flight Wi-Fi is becoming an increasingly common inclusion with many airlines, but the technology is still suffering from immense limitations. Because of these limitations, many of us have been content to skip Wi-Fi packages in the air, instead preferring to rely on other provided options, or simply to go without. With a greater understanding of what causes these problems, however, it can be possible to find viable ways to engage with in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, and that’s an idea we want to investigate today.

What Causes Slow In-Flight WI-FI?

There are several possible reasons that inflight Wi-Fi can be slow, none of which can fundamentally be altered by you personally. Depending on the flight, the issue might be the result of poor coverage or weather conditions. In either case, if satellite access is cut or suffers, slower internet speeds for the entire flight is the inevitable result.

Nan Palmero

The other potential cause of slow Wi-Fi comes from the use of other travelers. Just as with home Wi-Fi systems, inflight Wi-Fi only has a certain amount of bandwidth available. If some users are selfish or ignorant about data costs, they may choose to download large files or engage with highly demanding media content. This can take up an enormous amount of the shared bandwidth, meaning a slower experience for everyone else.

How can you Mitigate the Problem?

While there is no way to outright repair the problem, by adjusting your approach it can be possible to at least find a way forward. In this, all possible routes of progress relate to finding opportunities that use lower quantities of bandwidth.

If you want to watch videos on a service like YouTube, for example, you can see much more reliable playback by shifting to a lower overall level of quality. For an example of this, we could look at the data comparison chart created by Android Authority. According to their tests, around an hour of 360p quality video used around 180-250 megabytes of data. A quality of 1080p, on the other hand, could use from 2.5-4.1 gigabytes, over ten times more.

A similar approach could be found on the gaming front. On the lower bandwidth end, online casino games from services like NetBet UK would use around 20 megabytes for a download. Continued use on slot spins for games like Wild Rails and Starburst would then use only kilobytes per spin, therefore a great option for those of us who are data-wary. Compare this to a game like PUBG, with a download weighing in at several gigabytes, and ongoing data costs of up to 50 megabytes a game, and the more viable option is obvious.

Mista Stagga Lee

For general internet browsing, it’s more difficult to find areas for improvement, though they do exist. Generally, the most significant bandwidth saving potential in browsing can be found through the proper use of extensions and apps, as explored by Medium. Temporary image and video blockers are highly useful in this regard, though they might need to be toggled in some instances for better functionality.

At the current rate of technological development, the limitations which we currently experience with in-flight Wi-Fi should, hopefully, just illustrate teething pains. Until we reach a future where these issues no longer persist, we at least have the above options to fall back on. These avenues might not be perfectly reliable but, as it currently stands, they can still make a considerable difference in the quality of your air travel entertainment.


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