Only 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!