Low-cost airline Mango, owned by national carrier SA Airways, will be the first domestic airline to offer in-flight broadband over Wi-Fi.
The service, to be provided by Internet provider WirelessG, will allow Mango passengers to surf the Web, check their e-mail and update their social networks at 35 000 feet above the ground.
The service, which will be available “later this year”, still requires the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority. However, the CAA has said it welcomes the plan in principle.
Pricing hasn’t been finalised yet, but WirelessG says it will cost less than R1/MB, or less than half the cost of most prepaid cellular data tariffs, to connect.
Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout says the airline’s Internet service will be operational across its fleet of new-generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Mango will follow a similar roll-out process to America’s low-cost Southwest Airlines, he says.
The service, which works via satellite, will be “moderated to exclude access to potentially offensive Web content”, adds Bezuindenhout. “In order to ensure the comfort of all our guests on board, content that should be accessed in privacy will not be available.”
WirelessG CEO Carel van der Merwe says there will be no sign-up costs and no contract tie-ins for Mango passengers.
WirelessG recently signed an agreement with US-based Row 44, the company that provides in-flight Wi-Fi Internet service to Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and, later this year, through Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Because the service uses Wi-Fi, most laptop computers and many smartphones will be able to connect. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
- Image credit: Mickeymox