“The Little Blue Pill For Your PIPE”
It is not the size but the way you use it.

Last time in “Why Size Doesn’t Matter” I outlined the specific issues limiting timely connectivity communication due to satcom latency. Today, lets talk about some fixes, to make the most out of your pipe.

In a world guided by the laws of physics you may feel a little trapped by the inevitable lack of comparable Internet service when flying over the pacific at 600mph, but I have good news. The Internet is a complex place filled with a lot more than just streaming media.

The Internet world is really broken into two broad categories that have evolved sequentially in two distinct directions:

1) Communications Centered. 1970-199x
2) Rich Media Content. 199x-Today

For the last 40 years the Internet has grown and moved inevitably towards the “richening” of content from text email and bulletin boards to AJAX and embedded interactive media, but one fact seems to buck this trend, the growth of instant connections and the new “always connected” model. Since 2007 we have seen a steady reversal of the importance of Internet media in a human sense back to raw connectivity. Born out of the collision of convenience, and shrinking Internet devices (Smartphones), the “instant al-ways on” model exploded.

To understand how important the use of this technology is to your inflight connectivity needs, you need to examine both the growth of rich sources, such as, Streaming Video at the same time as growth in Instant Messaging/Broadcasting and Status Updates. A recent study on Internet usage shows the US’s largest single consumer-use of band-width during peak hours is Netflix (15m members) at over 20% (400+ Mb per day per user); whereas, Facebook with over 150 million users in the US market only uses 2%. In fact, 8 of the top 10-bandwidth users are streaming video, accounting for 60% of all traffic on the Internet by volume.

So how to take advantage of the change? Firstly you must offer connectivity, “always on” is just that. Secondly, offer targeting access services… not the pipe. The Internet is not what it used to be and selective access is not only a bandwidth advantage but also a passenger service preposition advantage.

Here is an analysis of usage and SBB (Swift Broadband) costs to clarify the service focus:

• Open Internet access on SBB, limited to a single channel of 400 Kbits/s costs the passenger a maximum of $15-$30* per minute to stream video. (Based on the 50K bytes per second link speed)

• Mobile Facebook access on SBB, costs the passenger a maximum of $0.22-$0.44* per minute. (Based on US figures for mobile access of 24 hours a month @ 16% of 400 MB usage per month)

• Instant Messenger access on SBB, costs the passenger of $.005-$0.01 per minute. (Based on 40 words per minute composition and 5 simultaneous conversations)

In addition, the bandwidth requirements for Mobile Facebook are such that a single channel could supply simultaneous service for over 500 passengers.

Interesting enough, many other services have similar, if not smaller, network profiles but are highly desirable, such as Instant Messaging and Twitter. In time, the market players will move but the new “instant always on” culture has become well entrenched in our lives.

So what is the little blue pill for your air to ground pipe, it is optimizing your Internet offer-ing to selective services that are highly desirable and bandwidth effective, and re-focusing open Internet access as a generally desirable inflight service.

References :

* Based on SBB costing of $5-$10 per megabyte