As consumers of inflight Wi-Fi, business travelers are primarily concerned with one thing: productivity. Million-dollar contracts are routinely sent, received, and signed at 35,000 feet – often, business simply won’t adjust to your flight plan.
As a result, the connection you have while you’re in flight had better perform regardless of where you fly. No executive or manager wants to experience four hours of dead air, only to find that a competitor made a move while they were airborne.
Knowing how to maximize your available bandwidth can make a big difference in inflight Wi-Fi performance. A few key ideas can help you and your passengers get the most from the airborne connections.
Download any apps or programs you’ll need during flight – while you’re still on the ground. Many apps and app updates can be larger than 100MB. Downloading them during flight can use up your monthly data allowance without you realizing it, and slow Wi-Fi performance for all devices connected to the in-cabin network.
Be sure you have the apps you need before taking off.
We recommend limiting the number of active devices that connect to the aircraft Wi-Fi network. These devices may be hidden away in a briefcase, backpack, or purse; yet still may be connecting to the internet if they have previously been connected to the aircraft Wi-Fi.
Turn off these devices when you can because even inactive devices that connect can consume small amounts of bandwidth.
For active devices that connect in flight, we recommend disabling automatic app updates and temporarily turning off or signing out of cloud services. On the ground, these background updates may not have a lot of effect on device performance, but in the air these activities can put a drag on Wi-Fi performance for all connected devices.
Sync these updates or services once you’ve landed.
We recommend you download any video or audio files that you want to listen to during flight while you’re still on the ground.
Not all connectivity systems and service plans allow streaming, but even so we recommend you stream offline rather than online in flight. Streaming content when you fly can require a large amount of bandwidth – which can slow down performance for all devices connected to the aircraft network and limit the experience for other users.
Also, understand your options for onboard entertainment without streaming, and making calls directly from your personal smartphone. Downloading apps like Gogo Vision and Gogo Text & Talk allow you to watch movies & TV and make personal calls without the cost of streaming data when you fly (service subscription required).
For example, the connection speed needed for a phone call over VoIP is less than 0.5 Mbps, but an HD video requires 5.0 Mbps.
You can unknowingly exceed your data limits by treating each file type as if it uses the same system resources. By remembering what kind of data you’re asking your system to handle – and the scale of its consumption, meaning the number of devices connected at one time – you can avoid such surprises on your next Wi-Fi bill.
Additionally, knowing how you are using your Wi-Fi system can provide context that helps you understand current system performance, and helps you manage your needs on a flight-by-flight basis.
Understanding how much data typically consumed per flight can go a long way in helping you manage your ongoing monthly usage.
To help you track this, we provide access to unbilled usage per flight through our customer portal, Gogo DASH. This interface allows you to see the number of megabytes used on a specific date and time. You can regularly check your usage to understand how much is being used over time. If you aren’t able to check your usage as frequently as you’d like, we also offer built-in alerts when your usage amount reaches a certain data threshold based on your current plan. Be sure to pay attention to these alerts.
Information like this is powerful as it helps you truly understand your connectivity needs. Possibly you’ll discover that you require a different service plan to lower your costs for overages and increase your data allowance per month. Or, vice versa, you may find that you require a lesser plan which offers less data at a cheaper price.
If you have any additional questions regarding how to better manage your inflight connectivity, or to choose a service plan that better fits your online needs, contact Gogo Customer Support.
Talk to a connectivity consultant