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A motorless flat antenna could solve horrible in-flight WiFi

Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys
April 16, 2015
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The only thing worse than no WiFi on a plane is horrible WiFi on a plane. You cautiously throw down a few bucks hoping you'll be able to surf the internet without seeing a "page not available" message in your browser. According to Kymeta CEO Dr. Nathan Kundtz, the reason your in-flight internet connection is so crappy is bandwidth allocation and antenna design. Kundtz told Wired that the FCC needs to open up more spectrum in the less crowded higher frequencies. While we wait for that to happen, Kymeta introduced a new low-profile antenna to take advantage of the spectrum that's already available and actively track satellites for a speedier connection.

Unlike other tracking antennas that use a motor to track communications satellites, the mTenna uses "a holographic approach to electronically acquire, steer and lock a beam to any satellite, with no moving parts." Because the device is thinner than similar antennas on the market, it produces less drag when mounted on the fuselage of airplanes. The drag reduction means less gas consumption, which would make airlines happy. The antenna is still in the testing phase, but if it works, in-flight WiFi might actually become useful.

In this article: Airplane, Kymeta, Wi-Fi
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