Singapore Airlines plans to introduce inflight mobile phone and Internet access in May this year, beginning with its flagship Airbus A380 fleet.
The airline is polling selected members of its KrisFlyer frequent flyer loyalty program to participate “in an online survey about your attitudes towards inflight mobile and Internet services, which we are planning to introduce from May 2011” according to the email invitation.
The survey asks travellers for their opinions on pricing packages such as SGD$25 (that’s $20 Aussie and US, and £120 and €14) for 30MB, as well as if mobile phone calls and SMS messages should be permitted.
Should passengers be allowed to make and take calls at 30,000 feet they’ll pay plenty for the privilege, with calls being charged at international roaming rates.
As it’s up to each country to decide what those rates are – and with Singapore Airlines effectively being its own ‘country’ in terms of providing a fully controlled and self-contained telecoms system on board each plane – those rates could literally be sky high.
Mobile phone users will face high roaming charges, if SQ allows voice calls to be made – many passengers would prefer voice calls to be blocked
SQ’s inflight Internet and mobile service, which may carry the KrisNet brand in keeping with the KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system, is expected to debut on the Airbus A380 before being installed onto the airline’s A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
Passengers will be able to access the Internet on any device from a smartphone to a tablet or laptop, as Singapore Airlines will support connections through both Wi-Fi wireless networking (using a series of low-power hotspots located throughout the plane) and 3G (via tiny ‘pico-cell’ stations).
The satellite uplink equipment for Singapore Airline's OnAir system fits snug into an overhead luggage bin.
It will employ the popular OnAir technology, jointly developed by IT company SITA and Airbus, and currently used by over 20 airlines (including Air New Zealand's current trial of in-flight Internet) which feeds the Wi-Fi and 3G signals through to Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband satellite network.
If you can't wait until May, or you're not going to be flying on a Singapore Airlines A380 any time soon, check out our guide to inflight Internet: it details how to find a flight with inflight internet, anywhere in the world.