In-flight Wi-Fi comes to Europeans next year

European short-haul flights are finally catching up to US counterparts with the launch of in-flight Wi-Fi services.

Travelers on short-haul flights across Europe can expect onboard Wi-Fi services from 2016 onwards.

There are very limited options for fliers on European flights when it comes to connectivity. Wi-Fi is limited -- if at all available -- and many airlines still insist on phones being turned off or left on flight mode throughout the duration of being in the air. While airline rules are generally being relaxed across the board enough to allow you to use electronics during take-off and landing, European carriers still lag behind when it comes to Wi-Fi.

German carrier Lufthansa is the first to lead the charge in catching up to US airlines, such as American Airlines, which already offer Wi-Fi services on flights. From the summer in 2016, the airline plans to offer broadband on short and medium-haul flights.

While in-flight Wi-Fi is often limited, Lufthansa says its partnership with Inmarsat will give customers the option to use "superior applications" and streaming through their mobile devices. In addition, fliers will be allowed to send and receive text messages and "for the transfer of data based on their own mobile phone contract."

However, in-flight calls are still banned due to customer preference rather than any technological reason why.

Lufthansa plans to offer the Wi-Fi platform, called BoardConnect, to other airlines in the future, following a trial flight programme conducted together with Deutsche Telekom. Using what is called a "hybrid network" developed for Europe, an S-band satellite will be merged with an LTE ground network to improve the flexibility of Wi-Fi networks in the air as well as potentially reducing costs.

The airline has not revealed how much the service will cost, but we will find out next year when the technology is ready for launch.

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