Middle Eastern & African airlines are exploring solutions to boost passenger numbers, while making improvements to operational productivity, efficiency and connectivity across all areas of operations.
Throughout the region, the market is coming into its own with Wi-Fi connectivity at the top of the list for passenger satisfaction. Consequently, this sector is becoming competitive as companies vie for the best connections at the best prices.
WirelessG, a South African-based Wi-Fi telecommunications provider has made claims to have launched the world’s first mobile service offering customers a 3G/4G data bundle that can be used on the ground or in the air – 3G, ADSL, Wi-Fi and In-flight Wi-Fi – on a single online platform. There are still technical issues, according to their CEO.
“The Ku-band satellite service we received was relatively very stable. Our airline partner did an excellent job in supporting the service onboard,” says Mr van de Merwe. “Our major problem for two years was that we could not get our in-flight Wi-Fi services out of the ‘beta’ stage in order to meet the telecommunications uptime standards we are used to when providing Wi-Fi on the ground. In our specific case, we have had too many in-flight Wi-Fi hardware problems over our first two years.”
“You cannot fix a plane while it is flying,” he continued. “You have to wait for a suitable time at minimum opportunity cost to the airline. That can take between one week and one month. A new benchmark for in-flight Wi-Fi technology solution providers is therefore to provide and support onboard in-flight telecommunications solutions that support a telecommunications carrier grade model with reliability standards that at least match aviation operation service schedules. Maybe our standards and expectations are too high at this point in time, but we refuse to take our service out of beta until it meets our standards.”
Across the world, the demand for in-flight connectivity is increasing and not just in the cabin. Applications for real-time information on the flight deck also enhances the experience for the flight crew. Swift decision making can be facilitated by reliable connectivity, yet to be completely effective, the system required seamless connections with smooth band-switching.