Sky-fi

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE, March 2, 2014 (AFP) – Wifi in aircraft, hobbled in the past by slow speeds, could soon take off as new technology enables passengers to surf the web as if they were in a coffee shop, Internet executives say.

More airlines are rolling out new and improved services thanks to satellite technology, industry leaders said at the recent Singapore Airshow, with the public increasingly demanding wifi on planes.

US-based Honeywell Aerospace and Gogo, which supply inflight connectivity systems to airlines, are collaborating with satellite giant Inmarsat to implement the “first global high-speed broadband for the skies” dubbed the Global Xpress (GX) Aviation network.

Briand Greer, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific, said inflight wifi could generate $2.8 billion for the company alone over the next 20 years.

He estimates that around seven to eight percent of airlines currently offer wireless connection, but says this number is expected to grow to 25 percent by 2018.

After years of being bogged down by weak demand due to poor signal quality, inflight wifi can now enable download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second, Greer said.

“How we describe it is it will be like you are sitting at