Chinese airline to offer free inflight Wi-Fi service

Summary:Air China, the country’s national flag carrier, said more passengers will soon be able to enjoy free broadband browsing services at 32,000 feet after a successful trial run on Wednesday.

On April 16, two Air China flights traveling between Beijing and Chengdu become the first in the country to offer passengers free Wi-Fi during the journeys, according to a Sina news report

In the trial, passengers were allowed to use their personal computers and electronic devices to surf the Internet. Devices connect to Wi-Fi provided in the cabin, and then access the internet for web browsing, instant messaging, online video, video calls, e-mail, etc.

Passengers aren't allowed to use mobile phones in the trial, and internet services are not available during take-off and landing to comply with the country’s aviation regulations. 

The system provides internet access at up to 30 megabytes per second, according to the carrier. An increasing number of Air China flights will offer this free service in future.

Air China’s Wi-Fi service is generated through a wireless connection with ground telecommunication stations, namely Air-to-Ground network, which boasts cutting-edge 4G technologies.

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corporation announced later that it is the exclusive supplier of the ground-air broadband system on Air China’s first in-flight internet trial service.  

ZTE revealed that it has teamed up with Aircell — an Illinois-based division of the Gogo company— to build network platforms.  Aircell provides in-flight connectivity for business aviation and currently supports Internet services for 1,500 flights at nine American airlines. 

China’s largest telecom operator, China Mobile, has also helped build the wireless inflight system used on the Air China trial flights on Wednesday, according to local news reports.

 

Topics: China, 4G, Telcos, Wi-Fi

About

Cyrus Lee, writing under a pen name, is a Hong Kong-based reporter in an English-language newspaper and a correspondent for a radio station.

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