Understanding How Inflight Wifi Works on Business Jet Charters
Technology is changing the way companies use business jets charters. While corporate jets were once sought after by travelers wanting to avoid busy airports and time-draining check-in procedures, they’re now being used as a tool to maximize inflight productivity. A lot of that can be attributed to the availability of inflight wifi connectivity, which is transforming these aircraft into flying business headquarters. Business travelers can now perform many of tasks that they could only previously tend to on the ground, such as:
- Sending emails
- Making phone calls
- Holding video conferences
But how does inflight wifi work?
Satellite and Air-to-ground Wifi
There are two types of wifi network available to travelers using business jet charters, each with their strengths and limitations. Air-to-ground wifi: Similar to the towers used by cell phones, an air-to-ground system relies on land-based towers that send wireless signals upward to aircraft flying overhead. Satellite wifi: With this type of system, a business jet is able to offer Internet service by connecting to a satellite in geostationary orbit (about 22,300 miles above the earth’s surface). The wifi signal is then distributed to passengers onboard using an onboard router. An air-to-ground service is typically cheaper than its satellite counterpart, however, it’s also a little slower. Internet speeds can vary based on the service provider, but air-to-ground systems typically offer about 10Mbps (Megabites per second), whereas inflight satellite wifi ranges anywhere from 12 to 20 Mbps. For comparison’s sake, according to technology research firm Statista, the average household Internet speed in the US is about 20Mbps.
Where Can You Use Inflight Wifi?
While air-to-ground wifi works well for domestic charter flights, the ground-based towers are unable to deliver a signal over open water (signal strength is typically effective up to about 50 miles offshore). Therefore, business travelers who want to stay connected on international charter flights will need a satellite service. Additionally, until last year, the only option for inflight wifi in Europe was through a satellite connection, as the first air-to-ground networks were only introduced in 2017. When it comes to private jet travel in the US, Federal Aviation Administration regulations only permit charter operators to offer wifi connectivity at altitudes above 10,000 feet.
How Much Does Inflight Wifi Cost?
Some charter operators pass the expense of wifi service along to customers and others embed it in the hourly rate. If you’re paying extra for the service, you could expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 an hour for satellite service, depending on your data usage. To ensure you receive the service you expect, and to avoid any unforeseen costs, talk to your charter agent about the available wifi options.