The service, using new satellite technology, could even be faster than most people get at home, allowing travellers to enjoy online activities such as streaming films and music.
Even if it does not reach the highest possible speeds, it would still be 10 to 20 times faster than the limited internet services offered by a handful of airlines.
The broadcast regulator |Ofcom is considering whether to approve use of the new technology - called Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms - which would also be available on trains and cruise ships from next year.
It could offer broadband at 50mbps (megabits per second) - compared with 14.7mbps for the average home connection - although technology experts believe 10mbps is more realistic.
It uses advanced receivers to pick up signals from high-frequency satellites, even when the vehicles they are fitted to are travelling fast. It is not known how much the service would cost and companies are likely to sign up to offer it only if there is a high demand from customers.
Current in-flight offerings are extremely slow. On some BA business-class flights, for example, passengers can send SMSes and receive limited data on 2G mobile networks.
Even a broadband trial on
Ofcom's policy director,
"Ofcom is proposing to allow the use of this technology in the
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