Why Internet over the Sky is Different

The reality of satellite communications systems on aircraft is that they operate differently from the communications systems in homes and offices. This is because with an airplane you’re in a big metal tube moving 450 knots at 40,000 feet. Just the nature of the physics involved means that, from a communications
point of view, you may have to do some things differently than you would do in a stationary setting.

The mission is to make the experience on the airplane as close as possible to what it would be in an office or home. One major difference between ground-based and satellite Internet connections is the distance the data must travel. Although radio signals travel at the speed of light, the distances between a satellite, an airplane, and a ground station are far enough to cause significant delays in transmissions, also known as latency.

In an office environment, it takes just a few milliseconds for data to move from one place to another.” In an airplane, we see delays of 1,500 milliseconds. That’s almost two seconds [2,000 milliseconds], which is a lifetime in computer talk.

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