WirelessG has provided more details of its soon-to-be-launched airline Wi-Fi service, including how much it will cost airline passengers to surf the Internet from above the clouds.
TechCentral can reveal that the company will charge somewhere between 50c/MB and 90c/MB to SA airline passengers desperate to check their e-mail or browse the Web while airborne.
Final pricing will be determined nearer to the commercial launch.
WirelessG, which is 27% owned by Vodacom, said earlier this week that it was in talks with airlines in sub-Saharan Africa to begin offering in-flight broadband Internet access over Wi-Fi, the wireless local-area networking technology more popularly used in offices, homes and public places like coffee shops and airports. It hopes to begin offering the service in the next few months but won’t say yet which airlines will be first to offer it.
The proposed fees compare favourably with cellular data tariffs — they’re between 25% and 45% of the R2/MB MTN and Vodacom charge prepaid cellular data users.
The tariffs apply only to consumers who subscribe to WirelessG’s G-Connect product, but since there is no contract or subscription fee, the basic tariffs will apply to everyone.
WirelessG will use Vodacom Business’s satellite infrastructure to provide the backhaul from the aeroplanes to ground-based stations. Vodacom Business is the enterprise-focused arm of the Vodacom Group.
The in-flight Wi-Fi plans still require the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority, but WirelessG seems confident of getting the go-ahead soon to begin installing the equipment on both local and long-haul aircraft.
WirelessG CEO Carel van der Merwe (pictured) says the company has signed an agreement with US-based Row 44, the company that provides in-flight Wi-Fi Internet service to Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and, in 2010, to Norwegian Air Shuttle. It has an exclusive distribution agreement with Row44 for the entire African continent. — Staff reporter, TechCentral