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Other Providers of Leading Cabin Services & Aircraft BroadbandSmartSky Networks announced a partnership with Kontron this week at the AEA Convention held in Dallas. Kontron, German-based cabin WiFi access point (CWAP) manufacturer, and the relatively new SmartSky Networks, air-to-ground aviation telecommunications network provider, will team to provide a SmartSky 4G service with an expected capability of 10 times the current speed and capacity of other networks, according to the Florida-based SmartSky.

As passenger and operational expectations increase across both business and commercial aviation sectors, airlines and operators are seeking greater transfer speeds and capabilities for cabin services and flight deck options.

Other next-generation cabin services providers are utilising powerful satellite communications networks, such as Inmarsat and Iridium, to deliver aircraft WiFi solutions that can be as effective in the sky as they can on the ground.

In-Flight Entertainment via Inmarsat SwiftBroadbandGogo company, Aircell are pleased to announce EASA certification for the installation of their in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems for Bombardier Challenger 300 business aircraft.

EASA has awarded Supplemental Type Certificates (STC’s) for their Aviator 300 and UCS 5000 systems. Aviator 400 brings Internet, email and voice applications for both passengers and crew using Inmarsat SwiftBroadband.

UCS 5000, introduced in October last year, gives the industry the first all-in-one router and media server and offers passengers seamless access to in-flight entertainment plus brings router functionality in one box. Passengers will have access to Gogo Vision; an IFE service with a comprehensive library of on-demand movies and TV, in addition to news, weather updates and flight information.

In-Flight Connectivity Solutions ProvidersOnly weeks after the U.S. lifted the ban on in-flight connectivity, Global Eagle Entertainment showcased their new satellite Internet system at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The company claims that their satellite connection provides a more reliable system than air-to-ground providers.

“The satellite is already there and it’s possible to have more bandwidth when needed,” said Simon McLellan, chief engineer for Row44, the technology division of California-based Global Eagle, continuing his explanation that a satellite connection, “allows you to expand the capacity when the demand grows.”

With the demand for passenger in-flight connectivity with mobiles and tablets, and with the limitations lifted, the sky is no longer the limit for aviation communications providers.

Global Eagle have already signed a deal with Southwest Airlines and are set to rival Gogo, who have announced modifications to their ground-based connections in order to provide a hybrid system that will utilise both land and satellite transmissions.

Installation and set up of the system will cost carriers in the region of $300,000 to $500,000 – a cost that will be recouped via passenger fees for the use of the in-flight connectivity services. Some carriers may offer a free connection to premium or first class passengers, but demand is so great for in-flight connectivity, that it will become a matter of competitive interest over the coming year.

Business aviation passengers travelling on private aircraft have enjoyed in-flight connectivity for some time, as expectations are high for these premium services when high-end executive travellers need to operated effectively in their airborne offices.

It is expected that many providers will follow the trend for in-flight connectivity, in spite of the mixed bag of opinions from some big airlines – we shall see!

 

in flight wifiAviation Technical, Washington-based providers have been awarded the contract by New York-based low cost airline, JetBlue to install in-flight Wifi technology on their fleet of 130 Airbus A320 aircraft.  To installations are expected to near completion by the end of 2014.

Designed by LiveTV, who will give training and technical support to Aviation Technical Services, the technology will provide Ka-band connectivity.

JetBlue’s brand for the in-flight wifi is called ‘Fly-Fi’ and will use satellite networks for connectivity, rather than the more common Ku-band provision, which uses ground-based stations.  This will give faster and more reliable connection.

The Ka-band operates within a higher bandwidth and offering eight times more than the Ku-band, which is also more highly congested.

Other in-flight wifi providers, such as ARINC, use Iridium and Inmarsat satellite networks to provide a seamless global connectivity for their customers within the Ka-band with SwiftBroadband and their CabinConnect solutions.

passenger communicationsIt was recently found, according to a new market research report by commercial aviation analyst, Adeline Fernandez that the passenger communications and in-flight entertainment sector market could reach $3 billion by 2017, compared to $2 billion in 2012.

The ever increasing demand for improved in-flight entertainment and the growing need for fast and cost-efficient passenger communications is fuelled by the huge wireless industry.  Most passengers now want to use their own devices and Smartphones on board and do not want to be subject to the traditional restrictions.

As technology is constantly evolving, more advanced use of devices is expected and greater bandwidth is required.  WiFi systems for passenger communications and in-flight entertainment are set to take over in commercial aviation from retrofit systems by manufacturing companies.

Commercial and Business aviation passengers now want to use their phones, devices and laptops as efficiently in the air, at 40,000ft as they do on the ground.  This will fuel the installation of wireless connectivity on board aircraft as airlines vie for passengers.

in flight wifiLast week, the UK’s OFCOM began a deliberation into the possibility of the authorisation of the use of ESOMPs to enable in-flight wifi with speeds capable of streaming content from sites such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

If the proposed license of a new satellite system is approved, the connections, up to 10 times faster than current in-flight wifi could be available in the air, on the ground within the UK rail networks and on-board ships as soon as 2014.

In the U.S. the FCC have already authorised the use of Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms (Sumps) which are the key to enabling the fast connections on a global scale.

It is unclear, as yet, just how many of the British-owned airlines will actually use the technology, given the inevitability of high costs.  Upgrades to equipment would be needed and some airlines are reluctant to commit at this stage, as users on-board may be dismissive of the high prices, preferring to remain connected with the 3 or 4G mobile option.

ARINC, U.S. based industry-leading passenger communications providers offer, under the US regulations, next-generation passenger connectivity solutions for commercial and business jet aircraft with CabinConnect.

It was recently announced that Comtech PST Corp has received orders to the tune of $1.9 million for high-powered amplifiers.  The orders are reported to be from a leading satellite communications systems and electronics provider, although the source has not been named yet.

Passenger Communications - Satellite Communications

The amps form part of SATCOM systems for air-to-satellite-to-ground aviation satellite communications and allow access to Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband, Aero-H and Aero-I services.  Access to the satellite communications network gives multi-channel voice, data and fax capabilities for commercial and business aviation satellite communications in both flight deck and cabin areas of the aircraft.

Fred Kornberg, CEO and President of Comtech Telecommunications Corporation, said, “These orders are ongoing evidence of our capabilities in delivering innovative commercial aircraft amplifier products as well as the robust demand of commercial aerospace market. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with this premier supplier of aviation satellite communications systems.”

SATCOM systems onboard aircraft can offer airlines great flexibility when it comes to satellite communications services.  On the flight deck and cabin alike, the growing demand for seamless, high quality communications drives a need for reliability.

Aviation satellite communications service providers, such as ARINC, strive to continually stay ahead, furnishing the industry with innovative solutions for flight operations and passenger communications.

in-flight wifiIt looks like the days of turning off our mobile devices on aircraft could one day be behind us as the demand grows for passenger in-flight wifi connectivity.  Many passengers now want to tweet their journey or update Facebook statuses as they fly, posting photos of the clouds, their meals or cities from the air.  Social networking, as we all know, is huge and in-flight wifi is a necessary fuel for that fire.

Recent surveys show that a quarter of British holidaying passengers out of 5,000 believe that free in-flight wifi is not only necessary, but a human right, according to HolidayExtras, although it is also recorded that 84% of these passengers are unwilling to pay the current high rates charged for in-flight wifi.

Now that the US FAA declared the use of the new models of mobile phones and device safe to use in ‘airplane mode,’ the floodgates are open in terms of demand for cheaper, faster in-flight wifi connectivity and this leaves many airlines thinking about the possibilities for revenue versus the inevitable costs involved with upgrades to their existing equipment.

Within the next few years, Inmarsat, the British satellite communications network, will be launching three new satellites, which will give global connectivity possibilities and could spell faster and cheaper in-flight wifi, but, until then, with only four commercial airlines currently offering free in-flight wifi, competition is slim and the cost implications for the passenger still high.

While business passengers enjoy the versatility of in-flight wifi, it looks to be a while before the demand is met for the average holidaymaker.

Good news for Air France travellers, who no longer have to wait for the all-clear and can now use the in-flight entertainment (IFE) as soon as they take their seats.

This relaxation of the IFE restrictions follows BA’s decision last year to let long-haul passengers watch their IFE screens straightaway.  After months of intense negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority, BA became the first British carrier to do so.

IFE has come a long way over the past few decades; from simple in-flight movie provision to personal touch screen technology and internet connectivity.  IFE connectivity providers work hard to stay ahead of the game when it comes to innovation and continually update their services, products and solutions for airlines to maximize efficiency, cost-effectivity and enhance the experience of the passenger.

IFE providers, such as ARINC, have over eight decades of industry experience and are able to offer seamless connections and a vast range of solutions for both cabin and flight deck.

kevbo1983 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
in-flight wifi

In-Flight WiFi

According to many airlines, in-flight WiFi provision gives them a ‘competitive advantage’ in the commercial aviation industry.

As the competition grows fiercer, it seems that in-flight wi-fi will become less of an advantage and more of a normality according to a report by ‘routehappy.com,’ a site that ranks airlines.  Their report says that currently 38% of US flights offer internet connectivity and long haul or the most popular routes, such as non-connecting California-New York are offering in-flight WiFi.

Although it is still a small percentage of flights overall, it shows that, as passenger demands for in-flight WiFi grows, the more likely that it will become standard practice and airlines will be looking to offer faster, better and cheaper in-flight WiFi to remain competitive.

The debate grows after the FAA’s announcement last week that it will be lightening up about the use of electronic devices on-board, allowing passengers on certain flights to carry on using their Smartphones instead of the insistence of powering down before take off.

Most airlines provide ‘GoGo’ for in-flight WiFi, but with dramatic price fluctuations and intermittent signal, the marketplace is broadening and the opening into business aviation for passengers wishing to work in the sky and on the move means that a push into the Ku-band for international connectivity is the way forward.

Aircraft in-flight Wifi provider, ARINC, already offer truly global connectivity with their Inmarsat/iridium satellite network connectivity and are leaders in the business of aviation communications.

Gogo expects that in-flight wifi for business travellers will become a required expense and not an optional one and are experimenting on new pricing models as it is still early days for in-flight wifi connectivity.

Only time will tell…