Mile-High Wi-Fi Rates Could Drop

by  Dana Harris | Jul 8, 2010
iPad / grinvalds/iStock

We’ve gotten used to paying for the conveniences that were once free when it comes to air travel, like snacks and checked baggage, but it looks like flyers might not be ready to pony up for new amenities like in-flight Wi-Fi – and that could actually push connectivity fees down.

A new report from research firm In-Stat estimates that less than 10 percent of passengers who have access to in-flight Wi-Fi are using it, possibly because it’s too expensive. Currently, Gogo – the biggest in-flight Wi-Fi service provider in the country – charges anywhere from $5 to $13 per use, depending on the length of the flight. Frequent flyers may also buy a $35 monthly pass, but even business travelers, it seems, enjoy a couple of unplugged hours to themselves from time to time.

Still, slow sales aren’t stopping the growth of the in-flight Wi-Fi industry. Internet access has only been available on planes for a year and a half, and less than 1,000 domestic mainline commercial jets are wired for Wi-Fi. According to the study, this number is set to more than double by the end of the year, and In-stat predicts that revenues from in-flight internet will reach $95 million, up from about $7 million last year. Even so, if passengers don’t start signing online, airborne Wi-Fi providers might have to lower their rates – we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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