WirelessG explains in-flight Wi-Fi meltdown

South Africa’s first airline flight boasting Wi-Fi broadband internet connectivity took place yesterday (8 May 2012) when WirelessG launched their long awaited in-flight service. This maiden “broadband in the air” flight was however a disaster when the system buckled under the load – most passengers could not use the service.

WirelessG, which launched the in-flight Wi-Fi service in partnership with Vodacom and Mango, investigated the cause of the meltdown, saying it was a “technical related budget issue”.

“The system has been configured to allocate 128 IPs, with 124 IPs for passenger use. However, due to the number of passengers (115) utilising multiple devices (some as high as 2-3 devices) on the plane, more than 3 times the allowed connections were constantly requesting access to the internet,” explained WirelessG CEO Carel van der Merwe.

“Passengers also resubmitted multiple requests on multiple devices. All these requests from a ‘tech hungry’ crowd caused massive congestion with time-outs as a result. Short and sweet – the system was abused in terms of the ‘technical budget’,” said van der Merwe.

This scenario is unlikely to occur in a real world environment where only a portion of the passengers per flight will use one or two devices to access the Internet.

Despite the problems on the maiden Wi-Fi enabled flight in South Africa, Talk Radio 702’s Aki Anastasiou was able to make a Skype call to his radio station.

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WirelessG explains in-flight Wi-Fi meltdown