You’re excited that you now have internet on your aircraft. You’ve finalized all the details to purchase and install your new inflight connectivity system. But, before you can take off and connect to your new Wi-Fi service, you need to choose a service plan. Problem is, you don’t fully understand how much data you’ll require per month, let alone per flight.
Connecting to the internet and choosing a data subscription isn’t new news. Most likely, you’ve had to consider this when signing on for cellular service for your mobile phone or selecting a data package for your at-home internet. A lot of information already exists that can help you make a distinction between what you want to do online and what data allowance you may require.
But, how does that compare to selecting an inflight Wi-Fi subscription? It’s the same. Whether you’re catching up on email from your mobile device through the airport Wi-Fi or browsing your favorite online stores on your home computer, these online activities have the same data requirements – whether you’re on the ground or traveling at 500 miles per hour at 35,000 feet.
Data requirements for online tasks
So, let’s consider the following. Streaming specific types of data requires a minimum connection speed to upload and download each content type. For example, the connection speed for a phone call over Voice over IP (VoIP) is less than 0.5 Mbps; sending and receiving email with attachments requires a similar speed. But, watching a high-definition video requires 4.0 Mbps.
Users can unknowingly exceed their 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 – you can avoid such surprises.
Here’s a simple chart that shows the speed requirements for several common online tasks.
What can you accomplish with 1 GB of data?
This is a common question addressed by many internet service providers. Again, this information isn’t new, but let’s put it in context of what you and your passengers most likely want to do when you fly.
For business travelers chartering or traveling on private aircraft, your focus may be on business and ensuring you’re keeping up with emails, staying in contact with your teams, or prepping for work at your next destination. If you’re traveling for pleasure, you might use this opportunity for some much-needed downtime to catch up on the news, unwind with your favorite video playlists, or scroll through your social media feeds.
Here is an example of what you can expect to do with 1 GB (or, 1000 MB) of data – with additional examples provided for 250 MB and 2500 MB.
Source: AT&T internet data calculator at www.att.com/esupport/data-calculator.
Now, consider the typical number of passengers that fly and your average number of flights per month. How do your usage needs stack up to what you and your passengers can accomplish with the data allowance you choose? Understanding this can help to ensure you select a service plan that meets your unique needs.
TIP: Remember that some content, like videos and music, can be downloaded to your mobile device and accessed offline (without a data connection). Doing this ensures that you don’t exceed your data limits and overpay for service. Plus, because streaming video and audio requires more bandwidth, these activities can quickly degrade the in-cabin Wi-Fi performance for all passengers connected. Also, you can subscribe to Gogo Vision, our premier inflight entertainment solution, for offline access to top Hollywood movies, TV shows, and magazines – no streaming required.
Tracking data usage with the customer support portal
If you’re still not sure what service plan to choose, we typically recommend you start with a conservative plan so that you’re not overpaying for more than you’ll use. We allow our customers to adjust their service plan once they have a better sense of what their data requirements will be. At Gogo, we realize it’s important to be flexible so that you can stay on budget and find a solution that matches your operation needs.
To track how you’re using your Wi-Fi during flights, you can view your unbilled usage through our customer support portal, my.Gogoair.com. 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 data is being used over time.
Additionally, as part of your service we provide regular alerts when your usage amount reaches a certain data threshold, based on your current plan. For example, if you’ve enrolled in a monthly data plan we provide an alert when you hit 50% of your data allowance – with additional alerts being sent at 101%, 150%, and 200% of the same threshold. With each alert, you have an opportunity to adjust your service plan as needed. And, we proactively communicate the potential overage costs if you exceed your data allowance.
We also offer a similar service for pay-as-you-go customers where we notify you when you’ve hit a certain amount of data usage (for example, 58 MB). Again, we fully communicate potential costs to you, and provide an opportunity to adjust your plan as needed.
Still have questions about which service plan is best for you? Contact Gogo Business Aviation customer support for more information. We’re ready to help you choose the best service to meet your needs.