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Delta, Sprint, Gogo, and others team up to make in-flight internet not suck so much

The group does not want to change how you get your in-flight internet, but wants to make it much faster and easier-to-use than before.

Published onFebruary 26, 2018

  • Delta, Gogo, Sprint, and other companies announced the Seamless Air Alliance.
  • The group hopes to bring faster and easier-to-use in-flight internet connections.
  • The concept is still in its early stages and faces several obstacles.

Getting an internet connection on an object that moves at hundreds of miles per hour, almost 40,000 feet off the ground is not an easy task. In-flight internet is terrible. The Seamless Air Alliance, a new initiative announced during MWC 2018, hopes to change that and deliver broadband-level connections in the sky.

The Seamless Air Alliance is composed of in-flight internet provider Gogo, plane manufacturer Airbus, airline Delta Air Lines, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint, satellite startup OneWeb, and Indian carrier Bharti Airtel. The broader goal, reports The Wall Street Journal, is to offer in-flight internet that rivals your home Wi-Fi connection and make it as easy as possible to connect to it.

The alliance does not want to change how to equip planes with internet — it still wants to use satellites. Rather, it wants to introduce a hardware and operations standard for airlines to make the internet experience more consistent across airlines and, possibly, more affordable.

The Seamless Air Alliance also wants to make it easier to get connected. To that end, the group envisions a future where you don’t have to type in your credit card information or authenticate your device to connect.

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Getting to that future won’t be easy. Apart from technical approvals from government regulators and aviation groups, rivalries between airlines will lead to some obstacles. The Seamless Air Alliance’s concept is also still in its early stages.

Arguably the largest obstacle is time. As The Wall Street Journal noted, existing services gradually fallen in price, while similar attempts to this failed in the past.

That being said, another competitor means more choice and could lead to lower prices for consumers.