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Tech

Larry Magid: FCC Looking Into Faster Wi-Fi On Airplanes

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An airplane lands at nightfall. (CBS)

An airplane lands at nightfall. (CBS)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— It’s great that we can now get the Internet on planes now, but often times the connection is too slow. The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly taking steps to bring faster, cheaper Wi-Fi connections on airplanes.

On my cross-country flight Friday morning, the airplane got in early, but the Internet was slow. It’s a way to alleviate some of the boredom of flying, but I probably should have been taking a nap or reading a book. But I chose to try to be productive with slow Internet speeds.

I certainly couldn’t have watched video. Some websites wouldn’t load, and even connecting to Gmail wasn’t the smoothest. Believe it or not, it would take two or three minutes for a message to open.

The problem is you have a speed about the same as an average home, but you’re sharing it with everybody else using it on the plane. Aside from that there’s the issue of the radio antennae between you and the ground. I think it is a slower connection than what I have at my home, so of course it moves at a snail’s pace.

As far as increasing the speed goes, the  FCC has to approve it and needs to obtain the spectrum from somewhere. The technology will make it hundreds of times faster. At 300 gigabits per second that should be lightning fast and much more suitable for watching a movie with the Wi-Fi connection.

But with higher speeds will most likely come a higher cost. I paid about $14 for Wi-Fi service on the plane because I purchased it in advance. If I would have waited, it would have cost $24. It’s expensive, but for those of us who have to work on planes it may be worth it.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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