Sub-Saharan Africans will soon be able to connect to the Internet pretty-much anywhere they are – even while on a domestic or long-haul flight – thanks to a new technology announcement from WirelessG,.
While the technology that will enable in-flight Internet services is dependent on Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval, it will be provided through an exclusive agreement with US-based Row 44 which is already offering in-flight Wi-Fi Internet to Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and, in 2010, through Norwegian Air Shuttle.
After testing in the US, the first complete set of hardware will arrive in South Africa shortly. This will be used to setup a ground-based proof of concept (POC) here in South Africa to test the complete solution, including the satellites that will be used for the commercial product.
WirelessG also holds an exclusive agreement for the African continent, but is still investigating options to see how soon, and to which extent they will be able to provide in-flight Wi-Fi into Africa and is actively investigating potential airline prospects to identify valuable business partners.
Carel van der Merwe, CEO of WirelessG, says the company is already in negotiations with local airlines, and while the solution is already in POC phase, no information is being released as to which carrier will launch the service first.
Because Row 44’s in-flight broadband system is satellite-based and leverages the extensive Hughes satelllite network, WirelessG and Row 44 will be able to provide African airlines’ passengers with uninterrupted high-speed connectivity in-flight, no matter where they fly – including flights across multiple countries and over water.