Wi-Fi in the sky–Are we sure thats a good thing ?

WiFi in the sky

Most of us missed out. Today was a historic day in South Africa’s communication journey – In a first for South Africa, Wireless G, together with Mango and Vodacom, bring you Wi-Fi in the sky.

Yip, we now have internet  at 30,000 feet !

G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi allows for full Internet connectivity on board Mango’s aircraft, including sending and receiving emails, web browsing as well as the use of all social networks. An air-to-land SMS service will also be available, managed through a web service.

By converting their satellite infrastructure, Vodacom has ensured that the G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi service will keep people connected even as they travel at over 800km/h.

There are three different G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi packages on offer:

  • One-Way Access is priced at R50 per single sector flight
  • One Day pass available at R90 (irrespective of the number of flights completed during a 20 hour period).
  • A per-minute option, billed through G-Connect online account, offers land and air convergence at R1 per minute.

The service will be monitored continually with real-time support available to users. Data-heavy services like YouTube and peer-to-peer downloads will, however, be disallowed.

So why am I not so excited ?

As a techie I know I should be thrilled with this. Internet in the sky ? WOW ! So why am I not overjoyed ?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the tech is great. I think this is an amazing achievement and milestone in South Africa’s connectivity history.

However, once the hype dies down and once you sent your first couple of emails and once you Tweeted, WhatsApped, BBMed, and browsed the web and once the initial grin leaves our faces as we Skype with those famous words “I am at 30 000 feet cool !” then we will realise that one of the last internet-free zone is no more.

Hopefully they have a policy for an annoying seat-neighbour who is on Skype to his/ her other half blowing kisses at the screen and screaming “Can you hear me now ?” every once in a while…

I think this might be one of those cases of “be careful what you wish for cause you might just get it” situation…

I rather enjoy the peace and quiet of not beeps, not buzzing, no “You got mail” for that 2 hours flight. Where I can catch up on reading or focus on some code or finalise that presentation. The temptation is now too great to “just quickly check my mail” and then get irritated with what is being downloaded into my Inbox…

Oh well, guess you cant fight progress…

As was rightly pointed out to me on Twitter: in the US these same concerns were raised initially but they are non-issues now. I expect that SA will follow suit.

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