Visualized JetBlue and ViaSat test FlyFi inflight WiFi from the ground

Gogo’s ground-to-air transmitters typically mandate evaluating service while jetting around the country above 10,000 feet. Sure, you don’t need to waste fuel flying around an empty airliner, but even the company’s small jet can burn through quite a bit of cash. ViaSat, on the other hand, can do much of its service testing on the ground, using that fairly ordinary Ford van pictured just above. The reason, of course, relates to the location of the company’s transmitter — namely, the ViaSat-1 satellite, positioned some 22,000 miles above the ground. In the air, planes will actually be nearer to the orbiting device, rather than farther away, and assuming a line-of-sight link from the road, the truck can work out kinks at a fraction of the cost.

That white dome atop the van, which is similar to the device that’ll soon be mounted on JetBlue’s fleet, maintains a constant connection by rotating instantly as the van moves — if the vehicle’s heading changes, the antenna array will turn, too, so it’s always pointed directly at the sat in the sky. You may have seen ViaSat’s van driving down Southern California’s freeways, but the rig has just arrived in Orlando, for some additional testing a few degrees away from the company’s Carlsbad home. Assuming all goes well here, you’ll be shooting around the web courtesy of Fly-Fi in no time at all.

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