G-Connect has launched their long awaited in-flight Wi-Fi service in early May, and according to the WirelessG CEO Carel van der Merwe they have already seen a great take-up of the service, in line with international trends.
Van der merwe pointed out that there is currently only one other aircraft with the equipment installed. “This aircraft is servicing random routes while it’s in the testing phase, which is why customers can’t plan their flights accordingly, and why we can’t promote it yet,” explained van der Merwe.
However, this is set to change soon. “The second plane is finished and currently on test flights, it will be in operation soon. With the two operational aircraft, we can ring-fenced certain routes as G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi routes,” said the WirelessG CEO.
“Announcements in this regard will follow soon. The third plane is scheduled to go in for equipment installation shortly.”
Mango’s entire fleet of six planes will be Wi-Fi enabled by the end of 2012. “We’ve already received the majority of the equipment. Wireless G has also received some very creative partnership suggestions from quite a few companies,” said van der Merwe.
“It will be interesting to see how our model will pan out during the course of the next year or so. Our ‘Uncapped ADSL with Wings’ offering, where G-Connect customers get 100 free Wi-Fi minutes, is also proving to be quite attractive.”
No technical problems since launch
The maiden “broadband in the air” flight was a disaster when the system buckled under the load – most passengers could not use the service.
“The system has been configured to allocate 128 IPs, with 124 IPs for passenger use. However, due to the number of passengers on the plane (115) utilising multiple devices (some as high as 2-3 devices each), more than 3 times the allowed connections were constantly requesting access to the internet,” explained van der Merwe.
This problem did not occur again, and since its launch the service has been running smoothly. Recent tests showed real world speeds of well above 1Mbps which should satisfy most customers.
“Wireless G is very satisfied with the service – it’s been 100% stable following the launch. Since the launch, the service was unavailable during two flights, but that was related to normal aircraft maintenance, and not a system failure,” said van der Merwe.