SA's first Wi-Fi flight has bumpy landing

By Bizclik Editor

South Africa’s first ever Wi-Fi flight hit turbulence when it came to providing passengers with full internet access yesterday - as the majority were unable to connect.

Mobile operator Vodacom, South African budget airline Mango and Internet service provider Wireless-G have teamed up to provide the service, with the inaugural Wi-Fi flight launching from Lanseria yesterday.

Over 100 passengers boarded the plane but around 70 percent proved unsuccessful in connecting to the network, with WirelessG blaming “budgetary constraints” for the failure.

CEO Carel van der Merwe said that the system was designed to allocate 128 IP address for passengers in total – however each of the 115 passengers on board yesterday attempted to connect on multiple devices which saw hundreds of connections trying to be made at once.

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“This was not a technical or hardware problem, but rather a case of tech-hungry individuals with a desire to test the service to its limits,” he said.

Yesterday’s test showed that Apple and Samsung devices provide the most successful connections, while BlackBerry products had the least amount thought to be because users have the version 5 BlackBerry’s operating system.

Mango hopes to roll out the service on all aircraft by the end of June, although initially Wi-_F will only be available on specific 737-800s fitted with in-flight Wi-Fi equipment.

Customers can choose to pay R50 for a single sector flight (2 hours), R90 for a one-day pass or R1 per minute billed online through a G-Connect account.

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