G-Connect’s in-flight Wi-Fi service will be officially launched on 8 May 2012, providing broadband connectivity to Mango passengers. This is the culmination of work and approval processes which started in 2008.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved the installation and use of in-flight Wi-Fi enabled equipment on board South African commercial aircraft in October 2011 and issued the final validation of the fully deployed and operational G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi solution more recently.
Subash Devkaran, the senior manager in charge of Aircraft Certification at CAA, explained that WirelessG applied for validation of a supplemental type certificate (STC) issued by the US Federal Aviation Authority. The CAA reviewed the certificate and found that it is fit for use in South Africa.
This means that the specific modification covered in the STC is allowed on SA aircraft and that G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi is now certified to be used commercially in South Africa.
“South Africa is one of the very first to be implementing this,” Devkaran said.
WirelessG CEO Carel van der Merwe confirmed that Wireless G has received the CAA’s validation letter. “It is the best news since I have communicated my in-flight broadband vision to my board in 2008,” said van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe would however not give further details on their launch plans, saying that everything will be unveiled on 8 May.
WirelessG is using technology from Row 44 to deliver broadband access on South African aircraft. The technology makes use of satellite-based connectivity for back-haul purposes with speeds of up to 4Mbps.
WirelessG has partnered with Vodacom who will provide the needed satellite services to provide in-flight connectivity.
While the service is expected to be very stable with a good overall throughput, users can expect higher latency than standard broadband services because of the satellite based backhaul connectivity.