800 Airplanes with Broadband Soon!

image-1 A recent research indicates that by the end of 2009, there will be about 800 planes with in-flight broadband services. And this would generate a worldwide passenger revenue of $49 million.

By the end of 2008, there were only 25 airplanes with broadband enabled. Reports indicate that this market is still emerging and will grow upto $1 billion annually by 2012.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • In-flight broadband equipment revenue will nearly double between 2009 and 2013.
  • Competing providers include Aircell, Panasonic and Row44.
  • In-Stat forecasts over 200 million annual in-flight broadband connects by 2013, with long-haul connects dominating over short-haul connects.
  • Connections from handheld devices will account for about 1/3 of connects, with notebook computers accounting for 2/3.

How will this work?

Airplanes would get their broadband connectivity through:

  1. Satellite (like Row44 and Panasonic’s service)
  2. An air-to-ground network (Aircell’s service based on its own air-to-ground network)

Challenges till date

  • Weak economy
  • Poor availability of in-flight entertainment
  • High costs of the service and equipment
  • Difficulty getting regulatory approval for external antennas
  • Extra weight of the equipment adding to fuel costs

Where are we today?

  • Aircell has been working with American, Delta, United and Virgin America to offer Gogo broadband Wi-Fi services on a number of planes.
  • JetBlue’s “BetaBlue” plane has a narrowband service that allows sending emails and instant messages.
  • American Airlines has plans to install in-flight broadband in more than 300 of its airplanes in the next two years.
  • All 28 planes of Virgin America should have Wi-Fi enabled by June this year.
  • Alaska and Southwest airlines have begun testing Row 44’s satellite-delivered broadband services on some planes.

With service and equipment costs going down, conditions look a lot brighter now. In-flight broadband providers like Aircell, Row44, and Panasonic can now look at large scale deployments.

(Source: In-stat)

2 Replies to “800 Airplanes with Broadband Soon!”

    1. @Hash,
      Yeah, pretty cool, isn’t it? But the main factor involved here is – how many passengers would actually be willing to use the service? The price is the major factor!
      The in-flight phone business did not work so well, because prices were steep… people found it way too expensive! Let’s wait and see how much would in-flight broadband cost its passengers.

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