According to telecommunications company ZTE, 4G LTE data connections will be available for use on flights from later this year. ZTE conducted a test on a Hainan Airlines Flight which showed that 4G connectivity was available for a large portion of the two hour flight, with download speeds of more than 12 Mbps. The technology uses a 4G LTE data connection between the aircraft and the ground, which can then be used by passengers over a Wi-Fi connection.
ZTE expects to apply this technology to all Chinese airlines by the end of this year, and will continue to expand after this. ZTE, however, is not alone in developing this technology, with Airbus, Alcatel and a number of other companies also working on developing these high-speed data connections. The technology is likely to be adopted fairly quickly, especially considering 4G connectivity is now available in more than 67 countries, according to the Global Mobile Supplies Association, so we may begin to see in-flight high-speed internet connections become a reality in the near future.