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Connected sky: Surfing the web above the clouds

As his plane prepares for take-off at London's Heathrow airport, frequent flyer Matt Hatton knows that in just a few minutes his smartphone will become dead weight.

Well, almost.

No email checking. No Facebook status updates. No YouTube, Spotify, Google search.

In short - no internet.

Despite a number of airlines now offering in-flight internet, also called onboard wi-fi, far from every plane is equipped with the necessary technology.

And even if the connectivity option is there, not many passengers use it.

It is rare for the service to be free of charge - often, the costs are sky-high, compared with terrestrial prices.
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And for many flyers, the experience can be different from what they are used to at home or in the office.

"It certainly isn't the same as high-speed broadband on the ground; it's very slow," says Mr Hatton, director at UK-based telecoms consulting firm Machina Research.

"Anyone hoping to use it for web browsing as they would at home would be rather disappointed.

"My experience was on Norwegian and it was free. And it would have to be! I probably wouldn't have paid for it."

Mr Hatton says that he mostly used the service for work-related email, but after hitting "send", the letter would "sit in my outbox for a very long time and eventually send".

Rise, fall, rise