Of course, some airlines already have in-flight broadband – and penetration is greatest in the US. But the offerings vary enormously by carrier and, the quality is often less than stellar. In-flight WiFi can be slow, patchy and expensive. This is down to the technology which is currently used – and is often not up to the job of maintaining dozens of connections on a plane travelling at 560mph.
However this is changing and fast. The next few years are going to see in-flight broadband appear where it doesn’t exist and get much better where it does.
That there is public appetite for this is not in doubt. People are used to being able to access services like Facebook, Netflix and Amazon wherever they are. According to a recent Inmarsat survey of 9000 fliers, 83% of passengers would choose an airline that offered in-flight Wi-Fi over a similar carrier that didn’t. What’s more, as the president of Inmarsat Aviation, Leo Mondale notes, “more than half of passengers would prefer connectivity to an in-flight meal.”
Both airlines and aeroplane manufactures are moving in this direction. On its website, Airbus now talks about the growing demand for on-board entertainment and other services and how its new platform “delivers the full breadth of new connectivity services and is a generation beyond any other available system.” Similarly, some carriers – such as Lufthansa – already have some in-flight offerings and their websites talk about use of personal devices on board.
If better technology is one half of this equation, the rise of the smartphone is other. The first iPhone appeared in 2007 and now, nine years later, smartphones are ubiquitous. A 2016 Pew Research study showed that US has 72% smartphone penetration, while the UK has 68% and Germany 60%; South Korea is the champion with an astonishing 89%.
Smartphones have been a genuinely disruptive technology and have made mobile internet a mass market phenomenon. They have ushered in the age of the selfie and, via apps like Facebook and Instagram, given rise to the idea of people documenting their own lives. They have also been the single biggest driver behind ordinary consumers expecting internet access everywhere. As any number of commentators have pointed out, these devices are not phones any more.
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Full Article: INMARSAT PLC.
Source : INMARSAT PLC.