As we noted last week, Wi-Fi was the darling of this year’s APEX extravaganza. Why Wi-Fi? Recent surveys note that almost 65% of US travelers think it important that airlines offer Wi-Fi service on domestic flights. Half of the respondents also said they would not pay for the service and a quarter said they would pay up to $5 to get email. While existing equipped planes see from 4% to 8% utilization, we expect the price to drop and the utilization go up. We also anticipate more inflight purchases as travelers are more willing to pay for goods and services on their own device. After all, they do it on the ground, so why not in the air? On to some show highlights.

We snagged a short half hour with Inmarsat and discovered a new product rushed to market called SBTV. The system/service, under David Coiley, is designed to deliver real-time TV and near live news to passenger devices. As we understand it, the laptop-sized portable device will be brought onboard each flight, hooked in and connected to passenger devices on the plane. We also understand the Swift Broadband connected device has been performing quite well in actual tests and will be coming to market soon. Brought to life by LiveCast, a technology company in Canada, the science has been on their radar for almost ten years and from the demo we saw, it was gorgeous. Interestingly, there are no apps or drivers involved at the user end, Wi-Fi is the conduit, and frankly, we don’t know how they will serve a plane full of passengers but more on that in the future. The system features live television on-demand and airlines can customize the service by route, region or time of day, and passengers can use their laptops and Smartphones as the receiver. Inmarsat see’s the rise in on-demand services and plans to capitalize on that market model. In the last year alone, on-demand services climbed almost 18%. With over 11,000 aircraft (commercial, business, military and other) using Inmarsat services, it seemed natural that an add-on device for passenger entertainment.

In a meeting with digEcor, we met their new Marketing Executive, Ben Fuller who is helping refocus the portable IFE company. We understand they are working with Samsung for future products and are looking toward the inclusion of casino gaming for use in countries where approved. We also understand that they have a streaming solution available on both Android and iOS. Stay tuned on this one.

If you have never seen the “Back to the Future” DeLorean DMC-12, you might be living in a an alternate universe. Having said that, this year the LiveTV people brought the car to APEX as part of the roll out events for their new Ka band service. Marketeer Mike Moeller (Alias Doc) has the view that the show announcement of Ka band connectivity on JetBlue next year is exactly that. Mike noted that the airline will roll out free connectivity when they do and because of the economics of Ka service, it will be a value addition that will draw fliers to the airlineā€¦ and it will! Using the ViaSat US network of satellites, the service will be accompanied by new hardware on the plane: a 1 Tb server with WAPs delivering 802.11 s, b, c, and n. The system features a new antenna and radome and we understand the first install is slated for later this year. As the respective satellites are deployed, we anticipate the LiveTV solution to spread to the Middle East and Europe (Middle East 2 months ago/Europe next year). Supposedly the service will be free for the first 30 aircraft, give or take a few. We understand that ViaSat will be supplying a total of 370 planes and that would cover the JetBlue and UnitedContinental installations. Moeller noted the European solution will deliver approximately 20 – 30 Mbps per plane and at that rate, we wonder if streaming services like TV or movies might also be a part of the package as well. “At $1 per person,” noted Moeller, “the system would pay for the IFE and connectivity.” We did not do the math, but we suspect most travelers would pay five times that gladly for the service. (Note: Mike Moeller also made and stared in a promo movie trailer that you must see. A take-off from the “Back to the Future” movie, it justified the car’s appearance, not to mention his acting talents. We begged Mike to put the show on YouTube but he shyly declined.)

We are always pleasantly surprised by the BOSE products and this visit with Hratch was no different. In the past, the QuiteComfort series has been the gold standard for travelers everywhere – check out passengers on your next flight. Now, the QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones are even better. IFExpress tried them and they now seem to have another few db’s of noise suppression between the new cushion material and the electronics – not to mention the remote mic and control switch. And if your idea of fun is running around a track with your iPhone plugged in, we suggest their SIE2i headphones with remote mic and control – they have to be the most comfortable design ever!

This week’s IFEC Buzz features industry newbie, Rodney Brown from SmartJog, a leading provider in the electronic service industry. Think encrypted file transfers almost anywhere in the world. You might checkout their new cloud-based file transfer solution called “Bolt” – requires no special hardware!

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors – Sadly, we hear Terrence Bonar’s AIRVOD has filed for liquidation.