Well, well, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in it’s our 25th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft business; albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, personal preference, and airline profit-making. According to IATA, in 2015 U.S. airlines raked in a profit of $25.6 billion, a 241% increase from 2014. The drop in oil prices meant big savings for the industry. Airlines spent nearly $27 billion on fuel in 2015, 38% less than in 2014. The results from 2016 are yet to be compiled and it will be interesting to see how they have fluctuated.
This year (2017) looks interesting and potentially problematic for the following reasons: fuel price increases, growth of airline fees, and a large increase in delivered aircraft. In fact, IATA predicts a reduced profitability ($29 Billion) based on slower GDP and rising costs. The folks at Aviation Week are predicting a downturn as well: “After years of high profitability, the airline industry appears to be entering its next potential downturn. The International Air Transport Association is predicting much reduced profits for 2017 in most markets as airlines are no longer benefiting from lower oil prices and overcapacity increasingly becomes a problem in many segments.”
From the other side of the equation, the IATA predictions include a 5.1% increase in tourism (we have a hard time with this one because of all the political madness in the world) and the airlines will take delivery of approximately 1,700 new jetliners. New planes means new IFEC and this is good for our team. Furthermore, this obviously does not include IFEC retrofits which will increase as a result of data hungry passengers and crew. Although, focus shifts from entertainment to data connectivity demand may be in the offing. As noted almost everywhere, passengers carry-on devices, whether it is for entertainment and/or communication, is resulting in another competing growth area for IFEC, which may negatively effect some seatback entertainment growth as passenger device purchases technically outpace anything that an airline can provide. However, we do note that upper class big screens win out in the front of the plane since no one carries anything onboard with a screen over 15 inches, or so.We should also note that in-seat power is probably a related growth item and folks in this arena have seen, and will continue to see, a lot of action.
Now, lets look at what we predicted last year in the IFEC related world for 2016. We don’t want to blow our horn because a lot of our observations came from a ton of research time on the Internet – we just did a good job of compiling the information:
Last year we wrote: “While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive. Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.
On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!”
We saw this one coming! Messaging just keeps growing and as the messaging options grow, so do the users. One of the best newer ones is SMS. Sending email to SMS is free for the sender, but the recipient is subject to the standard delivery charges. Only the first 160 characters of an email message can be delivered to a phone, and only 160 characters can be sent from a phone. Text-enabled fixed-line handsets are required to receive messages in text format.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website. In Asia WeChat is the big one while Android has HelloSMS, TextraSMS, and on and on. Further, the phone companies have a batch of their own connectivity applications. Face it, we are text message junkies and there seems to be no end because of our devices and lifestyle.
We noted in January of 2016, “From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, (audio) streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ crowd that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.”
For sure, this audio solution has been replaced by video streaming requirements on our personal devices. While we have no data but our own usage, we find that if we want audio (music) on a flight, we use our portable devices. A good example is taking place on phones – the latest iPhone we obtained with 128 Gigabytes, streamed, stored audio and video are no problem. Live information like news is another story. However, we should note that with the increase of Wi-Fi, and potentially Bluetooth (and possibly optical), things in 2017 will certainly get better. With more bandwidth for storage, and increased ground connectivity, programming will expand so that even with portable stored content, more video entertainment and news will be appealing. We should note that we have heard that some low cost airlines plan no seatback entertainment but rather are relying on customers to use their personal devices for airline streamed audio and video.
Last January we wrote: “Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up.”
As it turns out, the airlines have been doing much better. SITA states: “2015 saw total airline passengers rise 7% from 3.3 to 3.5 billion and mishandled bags drop from 24.1 to 23.1 million, a 10% improvement with the extra passengers taken into account, costing airlines a total of US$2.3 billion. Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” While the data has not been available for 2016 it looks like the airlines are on a downward trend for lost bags. SITA says: “Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” With the advent of electronic and passive tagging, things should only improve.
To be continued next week.
Publishers’ Note: We plan to publish your predictions on Jan. 17 so feel free to send us your IFEC predictions as well. Just tell us if you want IFExpress to attribute your words to you or not. PLW/TJW
If you checked out this week’s BUZZ, you might have noted that Rich Salter was quoted mentioning the Lumexis Fiber Optic IFE solution – it’s no coincidence. It’s because, he is our technical commentator this week and thus is involved in IFExpress’s latest communication effort, YOURSpace. We initially called the project TekTalk, but later we thought that readers might have more to discuss than technology. But, more on that later. Lets start off with any final New Year’s Predictions from us and a couple from our readers.
More 2016 Predictions:
1. This will be the year for a real push toward inflight digital aircraft live data downloading and weather – watch Gogo and their existing ground-based communication network… not to mention newcomer SmartSky Networks (per Mary Rogozinski). Don’t forget the satellite networks too as real-time position tracking worldwide is required by 2018. Data transmission costs are going to have to drop but the value of inflight weather may offset it. See this week’s press release on Panasonic Global 4D Weather.
2. This may be the year for an aviation radio security hack… don’t think it can be done? Try this out.
3. With the next five years growth of the tech and media industry projected to grow by $500 Billion and there is no way the cabin technology can keep pace, there will be an unusual demand for inflight Internet and messaging. So much so that we predict that a big company in that space today (Like Google, Microsoft, or even Apple), outside companies who rely on the Internet and deal it to consumers for more hours than people sleep, will buy or replace certain inflight Internet provider(s) today and begin the implementation of a super Internet that will have cabin and cockpit ramifications!
4. Years back, Thales (we think) demo’ed a small OLED screen but they never rolled it out for the commercial passengers, as far as we know. But things are about to change in the personal connectivity device this year with the likes of Apple, Samsung LG and others we expect OLEDs to be a big deal. Consequently, 2016 will have an OLED solution in the passenger cabin, but we don’t know who and what as of yet!
5. One vendor will test and lab demo an 802.11ah new Wi-Fi router. The new Wi-Fi frequency standard (‘HaLow’) may be the solution to more range at less power for inflight applications. With double the range of existing antennas, it may be a solution inside long metal fuselages, that is, if it doesn’t interfere with any aviation systems that exist today. Approved with an eye for IoT WiFi solutions, it may find a home on a future plane or at the airport.
6. Christopher Elliott, Travel Write noted in an article he recently published – Travel Upgrades We Would Like to See in 2016 – “Free the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connection fees are the most hated charges among travelers, according to a recent survey by MileCards.com.” “The notion that airline passengers have to pay for it is appalling,” says Megan Stetzel, a frequent traveler who writes a food blog. “For international travelers, Wi-Fi is their only way to connect with home to assure loved ones of safe arrivals or to look up hotels or transportation in the surrounding area.” “OK, maybe 2016 won’t be the year of free Wi-Fi, but more hotels are coming to terms with the fact that wireless Internet is a basic utility, like water or electricity. Charging guests extra for it is sure to trigger ill will,” stated Elliot.
7. Finally, not so much a prediction but rather a reality. With the development of devices like the SanDisk 200 GB Connect wireless stick, the need for onboard entertainment will be reduced even further with the evolution of these small form factor but large capacity carry-on devices. The SanDisk 200 GB can deliver simultaneous content for up to 3 devices wirelessly. Boy can we see some really useful and weird applications for this one! Check out this article: SanDisk Launches 200GB Connect Wireless Stick For iOS And Android Devices | Redmond Pie
Reader Predictions (anonymous & attributed):
- “Over the next year we will see at least one mainland Chinese airline significantly enhance its service and brand, and join airlines like Singapore, Emirates and Cathay Pacific as one of the premier airlines in the world (from an in-flight experience perspective).”
- “It seems the Amazon ECHO might be a great product for Etihad’s The Residence.”
- “According to some sources, the release of spectrum in the 2.4GHz range for aviation is mostly focused on non-IFE systems. Things like Reading Lights, Attendant Call/Reset, PA, Emergency Lighting control, Galley status (water levels; coffee maker health; cart condition; etc.); Cabin Interphone; “Mood” lighting; etc. are being studied to go wireless and reduce overall weight of the aircraft. Internet and IFE are still too big bandwidth hogs to deal with currently. One hears that ARINC is studying how wireless can be both used and standardized for IFE and connectivity applications, but no one is saying where they are in the process. The impression is that it’s a new activity and I predict that inter aircraft wireless connectivity will be a big deal when it is integrated with IFE and passengers and the cockpit!”
- “Beacon technology will be implemented on an aircraft in 2016! It will be used as much for counting, identifying and segmenting passengers as for pushing mobile ad campaigns.”
- “Someone will develop a device to detect and notify crew of any personal electronic product lost or left on a plane!”
- “Certification of the wireless system onboard for flying over multiple countries could get a whole lot more complicated and expensive unless the ARINC CSS committee can put their strategy in place in 2016.” Rich Salter, CTO Lumexis
Well, we saved the best till last – the new IFExpress contributed editoral and it is called ‘YOURSpace’.
Yes, we want to try an experiment – your input. We want you to think about submitting a 300 to 500 word message in IFExpress. After polling a number of our readers and advertisers, they jumped on the idea and we already have a number submissions to pass along to you and will do so in the coming months. Of course, we have the final say if your article runs but we expect nothing but good inputs for your story, message, sales pitch, inflight research project, future IFE view, industry observations, comments & suggestions, commendations… almost anything our readers might enjoy or find interesting. If you work for a company and want to write about your product, technology, or an industry issue; you will probably need approval, so make sure that you have your business communication group’s go-ahead, because once you submit your words to IFExpress and we approve them they will be published. Each YOURSpace feature will run for two weeks and after this introductory issue, YOURSpace will be located beneath the ‘Cabin Interiors’ section in IFExpress.
Basically, try to keep your words positive, after all, that’s what we try to do. Contact Patricia at email@example.com if you are interested.
When we first presented the idea to Rich Salter, CTO Lumexis Corporation he responded as the first entrant and said: “Terry – this sounds like a great idea. Yes we are interested, and I’ll send you a 300-500-word draft shortly.” Three days later we heard from Rich. So without delay, here is our inaugural ‘YOURSpace’ feature, submitted by Rich Salter, CTO, Lumexis Corp.
Title: Recent Advancements in Fiber Optics for Onboard Use
Fiber Optics continues to advance as an enabling technology for broadband networks onboard aircraft.
Comparing fiber to copper wiring, fiber is lighter weight, produces no electromagnetic emissions, and provides huge bandwidth. Fiber technology continues to expand, with recent developments in the areas of expanded beam (EB) contacts for cabin use, MT contact for 12-ribbon cables, and plastic optical fiber (POF) for the 777X Arinc 629 databus backbone.
Our Lumexis Fiber To The Screen® AVOD system was the first IFE system (and still the only one) to use fiber optics all the way from headend to seatend. Since 2000, we have been using OM4 multimode fiber for 1 Gigabit cabin networks, and we use the Arinc 810 standard contact, but we are not resting on our laurels…
Figure 1: Lumexis SSU uses purple fiber optic cables.
Figure 2: Lumexis VDU has two fiber optic inputs.
The Arinc/SAE Fiber Optic Subcommittee (FOS) headed by Bob Nye, Boeing, has written a series of Arinc specifications for fiber – these will teach just about everything that you will ever want to know about using fiber onboard:
- Arinc 801 – FIBER OPTIC CONNECTORS
- Arinc 802 – FIBER OPTIC CABLE
- Arinc 803 – FIBER OPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN GUIDELINES
- Arinc 804 – FIBER OPTIC ACTIVE DEVICE SPECIFICATION
- Arinc 805 – FIBER OPTIC TEST PROCEDURES
- Arinc 806 – FIBER OPTIC INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE
- Arinc 807 – FIBER OPTIC TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
But the technological advances do not the stop there – the Arinc FOS continues to update and expand these documents as the fiber technology evolves. Here is a summary of some recent developments:
Expanded Beam termini
The FOS has recently developed a draft of a new standard for fiber optic contacts (termini). Arinc Project Paper 845 is the document that describes the new standard expanded beam (EB) contact that is intended to be even more immune from dust contamination in the cabin.
MT termini and ribbon fiber
For applications that require even more bandwidth, the mechanical transfer (MT) termini provides 12 fibers in a linear arrangement in a single contact, and 12 glass fibers in a ribbon or circular configuration make-up a single cable. Arinc Project Paper 846 describes the MT termini. By the way, the next FOS meeting is in Oxnard, California on January 26-28, and it is open to all – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Boeing has been working with plastic optical fiber (POF) for its Arinc 629 avionics databus backbone on the new Boeing 777X aircraft. At the IEEE Avionics and Vehicle Fiber-Optics and Photonics Conference (AVFOP) in Santa Barbara, CA, in November 2015, Kien Truong of Boeing described their research into POF and their decision to use it for the backbone network in the new 777X aircraft.
Advantages of plastic fiber are that that it is even easier to work with and terminate into connectors than glass fiber, and it is less expensive; however, it is more lossy and therefore is limited to the shorter distance runs onboard.
Last year we wrote in our first issue: “Happy New Year to our readers and thank you for another year of IFE change and growth. We are always excited to write up our predictions, in fact, we have been researching for a couple of weeks now to bring you the latest in prediction news. Based on technology change, we are in for a ride this year, and beyond. Everything from drones to privacy is at risk to become a new item in 2015, and as we move into the world of change, we hope you find our view a bit different… and a bit useful.” The sentiment still holds so let’s get started on 2016. Here are a few of the big market and changes that we might see (or need) in the techno-world to come with aviation as our focus.
While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive.
Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.
On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!
From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.
Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up. In 2014 it cost the airlines over $2 Billion for mishandled bags so the airlines are ahead of the $4.22 Billion in 2007. We also note that half of the issues were caused by transfer mishandling. Perhaps the new personal Bluetooth and Wi-Fi bag finders in conjunction with the new self bag tag programs, and the eventual electronic bag-tag programs (NFC and RFID) will reduce the loss even further in 2016. In fact, SITA has been making inroads with their BagManager baggage tracking service in 2015 and we anticipate this feature to take off in 2016.
We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps. Notes SITA: “The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:
- Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
- Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
- Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
- Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
- Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”
Furthermore, ABI Research notes: “Research data shows that, from a beacon shipment perspective, most vendors are shipping multiple contracts in the tens of thousands. This is a major upgrade from 2014, indicating that a lot of retailers are ramping up to deploy in 2016. Although not public yet, several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) completed funding rounds, which will enable them to grow in 2016. Sensoro is emerging as a major market player, with more than 110,000 beacons deployed in China and some major orders lined up for 2016.”
This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times to come but we wanted to share one thought from an article in informationsecurotybuzz.com – titled: Human Behavior as the Biggest Threat to Company Security. “People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes. Of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk.” “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new things: “#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets. There will be plenty of those this year, but that will not be the show’s main theme. The prevailing stories will center on security, safety and health services that help consumers in their daily lives.” The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!
Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.” Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration!
We probably don’t need to say it but economy class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ up… possibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible), you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach class.
Women In Aviation Intl: Tracey Curtis-Taylor successfully completed her United Kingdom to Australia flight on January 1, 2016, recreating a pioneering 1930 solo flight by Amy Johnson. Tracey departed Farnborough airport on October 1, 2015, on her solo flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman named the Spirit of Artemis. The flight covered 13,000 miles, including 50 legs, crossing 23 countries. Tracey is a keynote speaker at the 2016 International Women in Aviation Conference March 10-12 in Nashville, TN at the Friday morning general session, expected to be attended by nearly 4,500 participants.
IFPL just announced the delivery of a one millionth peripheral to Panasonic Avionics (see the News Releases section for the full story).
Lastly, we are working on a few surprises for 2016, but more on this later…
First some clean up – If you are still wondering where the US FAA and FCC stand on the subject of inflight cell phone usage, here is a link to their website wherein a Q & A clearly sets out who-does-what-to-whom and from here, it looks like the onus is clearly with the airline. Clearly.
And speaking of inflight telephones, did you see the class action lawsuit filed in Northern California that claims; “Gogo has unlawfully obtained and/or maintained monopoly market power in the United States market for inflight Internet connectivity on domestic commercial aircraft by resort to anti-competitive conduct that includes a series of long-term exclusive contracts with the major domestic airlines in the United States. These exclusive contracts have the purpose and effect of thwarting competition on the merits and on price, and [they] have permitted Gogo to charge consumers like Plaintiffs and the members of the class they seek to represent supra-competitive prices. Judge Edward Chen wrote: “To be sure, the Court is cognizant that there may be problems with some of Plaintiffs’ allegations. Gogo never had a contract with Southwest and its contract with United contained terms indicating that the entirety (or near entirety) of United’s fleet was not locked up for a significant period of time (contrary to Plaintiffs’ representation). The Court is also cognizant of the fact that Southwest and United are two of the biggest providers of commercial, domestic airline travel — a point that neither party disputes. These facts legitimately put into question Plaintiffs’ assertion that “Gogo possesses at least an 85 percent market share of all commercial aircraft servicing flights within the continental United States. Nevertheless, even if the 85 percent figure is not correct, Plaintiffs allege with specificity other major airlines—including American, Delta, and US Air—whose fleets in their entirety or near entirety are or were locked up by Gogo’s contract. Thus, it is plausible that even if not a 85 percent market share, Gogo has a substantial enough market share such that, together with the allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint that there are high barriers to entry, a substantial share of the market has been foreclosed.” The lawsuit alleges that Gogo has established exclusive deals with airlines for the purpose of engaging in overcharging flying customers. This is interesting in the climate of newfound airline prosperity (+ $6Bn profit last year) that has come about as a result of ancillary revenue. And, we note that inflight telephony has been around since the early 1990’s – so why is this just coming to light?
Next, we might have found a way for airlines to make money off inflight cell calling, and, the aversion to the same… click here. Interestingly, if money is to be made off of inflight telephony (and the aversion thereof), we thought Ryanair would be right in there with other airlines, but there is another side to this one.
Having penned the above notes, we stumbled across a release about a developing story from Globalstar that outlines a new, W-Fi frequency based connectivity solution that uses your Tablet/Phone and a special app that communicated in the 5 Ghz range. It permits worldwide voice, text, SMS, and the like, using their new Sat-Fi satcom network. While they do not specify inflight usage or applications, we cannot wonder about the solution being transmitted via satellite. Check it out and ask a few questions about inflight usage (No?), inflight connectivity interference (UNK?), pricing (Probably high!), and a whole host of other issues! LINK
And, if you are an Iridium fan, they now have a satcom-based hotspot service called Iridium Go! $800 gets the small antenna-adorned device and we wonder if it will ever find usage on a plane? Bizjet, perhaps!
Go Hawks! OK, we are Seattle Seahawks fans and if you want to see how Boeing celebrated their success prior the Super Bowl check out this classy aviation move to salute the fans (12th Man).
Long-haul passengers can text and browse online at 30,000ft
London, UK | October 14, 2013– Passengers onboard Aer Lingus’ long-haul flights can now use their own mobile phones to text and browse the internet, using AeroMobile’s inflight roaming service.
All seven of the airline’s Airbus A330 aircraft, which serve the USA from the Republic of Ireland, are fitted with the AeroMobile service, meaning travellers can stay in touch with friends and family by SMS, or email a colleague at 30,000 feet.
Irish passengers using Three Ireland, Vodafone Ireland and O2 Ireland, as well as travellers from the US on AT&T and T Mobile can all access the AeroMobile network inflight. What’s more, AeroMobile has roaming agreements with over 220 mobile phone operators worldwide, from the Netherlands, the UAE and Singapore, to Estonia and New Zealand.
Inflight roaming has already proved a hit with travellers on connected flights in and out of Ireland; in the last six months more than 20,000 passengers have connected to the AeroMobile network on flights operated by Etihad, Emirates and SAS serving Ireland, sending 9,000 text messages from the cabin.
The service is just like roaming abroad; passengers simply turn on their mobile device to connect to the network, and are billed directly by their mobile operator. Prices are typically similar to ‘rest of world’ terrestrial roaming rates.
“With the launch of AeroMobile services on Aer Lingus’ transatlantic routes, Irish passengers are certainly well-served with inflight connectivity; there are now up to 140 flights a week coming in and out of Ireland on AeroMobile-equipped aircraft,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.
“Aer Lingus is the third European carrier to launch our inflight mobile service on transatlantic flights, a route which is showing high demand from passengers who want to enjoy the same level of connectivity they have on the ground, but up in the air,” continued Rogers.
Melbourne Australia 19th February 2010
Ron Chapman CEO of ASiQ Limited announced today that SafeCell will change the rules for in-flight messaging.
Ron stated “When we created SafeCell, the initial App was designed as a low cost Mobile phone platform for corporate jets. Refer ifexpress article
We have now tested our App on every available aircraft satellite network and recently received the latest Inmarsat swift broadband aircraft system.
We activated the SafeCell App on multiple mobile phones and were simultaneously sending SMS, MMS and Voice messages in both directions. As such, we are now confident we could accommodate the messaging requirements of 400+ passengers on a jumbo.
Not only that, unlike existing systems, SafeCell does not incur GSM roaming charges and we see no reason messaging in an aircraft should be more expensive than on the ground and its time someone did something about it.
As such, for the first time in aviation communications history, the price of SafeCell in-flight messaging can actually be cheaper than on the ground. We are talking of providing an SMS service that could be as low as 5 cents per message and MMS for under 25 cents, plus Instant Messaging for free.
We know from our competitor’s flight test on QANTAS and Air France that hundreds of messages are being sent on flights, despite their high roaming charges. We believe that SafeCell’s lower cost will make it affordable for all passengers, not just the business traveller.
The SafeCell App achieves this, as it makes the Bluetooth connection on the mobile the primary link and connects to a Bluetooth hotspot in the aircraft. SafeCell delivers its service via low cost satellites through the Internet, avoiding the GSM roaming charges.
The App makes a Bluetooth dumb phone smart and a smartphone even smarter and as Bluetooth is up to 3 Mbps, speed is not an issue.
We now see SafeCell as a real option for all airlines.”
Later this month ASiQ will release the worlds first certifiable Bluetooth Hotspot