The U.S. market for airborne Internet got a big boost last November after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration allowed passengers to use smartphones, tablets and e-readers throughout a flight, ending a long-standing ban on their use during takeoff and landing.
Satellite technology will speed up onboard connections sevenfold, to about 70 megabits per second next year, fast enough to download a two-hour high-definition movie in about four minutes. Of course, that bandwidth will be shared among all of the users on the flight, which could number 200 or more.
The improving systems mean customers will demand better connections. Some frequent fliers with status on several airlines say they choose flights based on Wi-Fi availability.