The Beacon

At last, uninterrupted Wi-Fi® in the sky

November 12, 2013 by Kelly Davis-Felner, Wi-Fi Alliance

Two weeks ago, the FAA gave airlines permission to allow the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) during an entire flight. This means you will no longer need to power down your tablets, smartphones, handheld games and e-readers, and you can continue your Wi-Fi operations while in the air if the plane has an installed Wi-Fi system. The change won’t happen overnight, and now each airline must certify its aircrafts and address issues such as avionics, changes to stowage rules and passenger announcements, revision of manuals, carry-on programs and passenger briefings to ensure they can operate safely with electronics devices from gate to gate. As we watch the race to see if our preferred airlines will be among the first to be approved, we started thinking about all of the ways we’ll be able to make use of the extra Wi-Fi time in the sky. Here are some of the most popular among Wi-Fi Alliance staff:

  • Continue reading Game of Thrones on my e-reader
  • Check for flight delays and gate information for connecting flights
  • Stay up on the NFL Sunday night football scores
  • Send an “see you soon” e-card to a my husband
  • Send a recipe to my sister that I promised her earlier in the week
  • Research the new diet I heard about on The Today Show
  • Shop for a baby gift for the newest addition to the family
  • Stay productive – respond to emails and reply to Salesforce queues
  • Listen to my favorite Pandora station
  • Create a holiday or birthday wish list on Amazon
  • Adjust my home thermostat so it’s the perfect temperature for when I walk in the door
  • Research the city I’m visiting on Urbanspoon, Lonely Planet, etc.

According to IHS Research, relaxed aviation regulations will help significantly increase penetration of cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity on commercial flights, and the number of aircraft providing either type of connectivity will reach 4,048 by the end of 2013. That represents 21 percent of the global fleet. The rise in connectivity is not confined to the U.S., and airlines around the world have rolled out various connectivity options. A recent article speculates international airline regulators are likely to follow the FAA lead on relaxed e-device regulations.

The below infographic from The Washington Post provides additional information about tolerated and forbidden communication while flying. If you’re still a bit unclear about the scope of the new regulations, the FAA has compiled a list of tips for passengers and FAQs that may be helpful.

Safe travels!

The statements and opinions by each Wi-Fi Alliance member and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Wi-Fi Alliance or any other member. Wi-Fi Alliance is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by any member in posting to or commenting on this blog. Concerns should be directed to


I know wifi choose 2.4 Ghz and 5Ghz for data transmitting. What puzzle me is that plane didn't choose the same frequency to communicate with the tower. Why should us turn off cellphone during fly?

The frequencies used by Wi-Fi have limited range, so they provide a signal in-cabin but cannot be used to communicate over long range. Restrictions about cellphone use are driven by the Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation ministries worldwide.

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Kelly Davis-Felner

Wi-Fi Alliance

Vice President, Marketing

Kelly Davis-Felner is Vice President of Marketing for Wi-Fi Alliance, where she oversees branding, communications, market development, program marketing, and public relations for the organization. In addition, she oversees Wi-Fi Alliance program management, including its certification operations. Kelly also holds responsibility for driving the development of Wi-Fi Alliance corporate strategy.

Kelly speaks worldwide about Wi-Fi's impact on applications, devices, and users. She is charged with promoting the technology and the Wi-Fi Alliance collaboration forum worldwide, and is one of its leading ambassadors, working with Wi-Fi Alliance's 600+ member companies.

Before joining Wi-Fi Alliance in 2004, Kelly enjoyed roles in consumer and business marketing, as well as in non-profit management. Kelly holds a BA in Communications from Loyola University of New Orleans, a Masters in Social Work from Tulane University, and an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas.