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Air to Ground (A2G) Communications

Today’s Travelers Require Reliable, Fast In-Flight Broadband

Every day, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manages the travel of 45,000 air crafts and nearly 3 million passengers across the United States, and that number continues to grow by about 4.5% each year. That’s an incredible amount of people traveling for myriad reasons, and most – if not all – of them have some expectation of a fast, readily available internet connection as they take to the skies. 

Families with young children may be trying to keep the little ones occupied with movies or games on a tablet, while someone on a business trip may be trying to finish up a presentation or respond to an important email. 

Whatever their reason for wanting (or needing) it, passengers have come to expect that they’ll be able to access the internet on their flight with nearly the same connectivity that they can on the ground. And airlines are increasingly adding in-flight WiFi to their list of amenities offered to their passengers on flights to and from all destinations. 

However, not all airlines offer WiFi in-flight and it’s still considered a growing field. In fact, the in-flight WiFi market is expected to reach $7.30 billion by 2025. When it was first introduced in 2007 the only in-flight WiFi service available offered speeds of up to 3Mbps. At the time – before there were smartphones in every pocket and laptops on every lap, this was more than sufficient for a rare user to do some very light web browsing or check their email. 

To that end, there are two ways that an aircraft can provide WiFi to its passengers – satellite backhaul or air-to-ground.

Satellite Systems

Currently, most in-flight connectivity is powered by satellite-to-ground systems. For continental flights, these systems are generally expensive to maintain and also exhibit high latency with a limited capacity, especially when considering the high number of flights in a relatively limited geographic area. 

Additionally, the satellite antennas are dome-shaped, thick, and heavy, causing excess drag and requiring the plane to use more fuel. In fact, it can require a fuel penalty of 400-600 pounds for each flight! These types of antennas are best suited to long-range planes with an international flight itinerary.

While the system is capable of providing very fast internet speeds to a single aircraft but as the satellite is often communicating with many aircraft at once, speeds diminish.

Air-to-Ground Systems

The alternative is a ground-based system that connects the plane to LTE cellular systems. 

Essentially, as the plane travels across the continent, it connects to the LTE wireless network, conveying connectivity to its passengers as it goes. As it gets out of range of one cell tower, it connects to another – and since there are over 417,200 cell towers across the country, there is nearly always one for a plane to connect to.

These systems are also much more lightweight than the satellite antennas needed for backhaul systems, therefore eliminating the concerns about drag and fuel penalty. 

Since these systems connect to a ground-based system, they are ideal for airlines flying continental flights where they’ll nearly never be out of range of a cell tower.

The Nokia LTE A2G system is a standout system, offering several advantages over other air-to-ground options:

  • Their dense ground network means that each site is contributing to the total network capacity, rather than a single satellite sharing its signal over a large area.
  • The installation time of the entire system is minimal.
  • Equipment is lightweight, leading to more efficient fuel consumption than other options.

Perhaps most compelling, however, is the fact that the Nokia A2G system offers speeds similar to those available on the ground. Users will be able to stream movies and TV programs or use video conferencing, all from the comfort of 35,000 feet.

The Nokia LTE air-to-ground cellular connectivity helps your airline gain an advantage over the competition. When you and your passengers are airborne, you’re often cut off from digital services. Infinity Technology Solutions aims to change that. With Nokia’s LTE Air-To-Ground solution, Infinity Technology Solutions offers ultra broadband Wi-Fi aboard commercial flights.

About Infinity Technology Solutions

As a master distributor of Nokia, Infinity Technology Solutions offers cutting-edge broadband connectivity solutions for transportation. We collaborate with the airlines, highway operators, railways, and maritime ports to provide the best cellular solutions for your industry. 

For more information, give us a call or fill out the contact form below.

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