Airlines look to in-flight broadband

9 Jun 2008

The market for in-flight broadband services is set to generate US$6.6m upon its launch this year and will grow to US$936m by 2012, analyst firm Multimedia Intelligence has said.

The debut of in-flight broadband services in the second half of this year will earn US$6.6m in passenger revenues as airlines look to invest in new entertainment services as additional revenue streams.

“In-flight broadband is entering a new era,” said Amy Cravens, analyst, MultiMedia Intelligence. “Since Boeing ended Connexion several years ago, in-flight broadband has seemingly been devoid of activity. However, during this lull, several initiatives to re-launch in-flight broadband have been underway as industry players prepare to launch in-flight service.”

There are two camps of in-flight broadband solution providers, those employing air-to-ground (ATG) technologies and those using satellite-based technologies. There is extensive debate during this initial trial period about what will be the winning technology for in-flight broadband connectivity.

There is also division in the in-flight entertainment (IFE) market of whether to offer a less costly, narrowband solution (such as LiveTV’s internet solutions), or whether to deliver a more costly, but more robust and futureproof broadband solution.

MultiMedia Intelligence’s research found that while in-flight broadband will initially target business customers, the market has a strong correlation to the on-ground Wi-Fi hotspot market, in which leisure users will account for 50pc of access sessions in 2008.

By Niall Byrne