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In-flight Wi-Fi Adoption Boosted by Budget Airlines

wifi_onThe adoption of in-flight Wi-Fi by budget airlines will provide a boost to the connected IFE (in-flight entertainment) market, a recent study from Juniper Research has found.

According to the study, entitled “In-Flight Entertainment & Wi-Fi Connectivity, Market prospects 2015-2020″, budget airlines hosting in-flight Wi-Fi will drive the number of connected commercial aircraft to over 10,400 by 2020, which is a threefold increase from an estimated 3,200 this year.

The study also revealed that in-flight Wi-Fi hardware will, for the first time, make connected IFE attractive to low-cost airlines flying short-haul routes. This was found to be a result of the decreasing costs of in-flight Wi-Fi hardware that soon will be offered as line-fit equipment by major aircraft manufacturers.

in-flight-wifiThe research also noted that rather than using traditional embedded seatback screens, many budget airlines are adopting the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach. Here, passengers are allowed to use their own devices on-board the aircraft to stream airline owned content, thereby reducing IFE hardware costs and weight.

Meanwhile, the research observed that service providers are positioning themselves as end-to-end providers able to offer a full suite of connectivity, content and hardware offerings to their airline customers. Another important driver behind this growth is the increasing availability of Air-To-Ground (ATG) and satellite networks across the world. The research found that new advanced ATG networks, such as Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network, will result in lower cost connectivity and higher capacity over high traffic density regions such as Europe.

However, the BYOD trend raises important safety and security issues as the airlines have little control over these devices.

“Airlines must ensure that they address all types of risks, including that of a rogue passenger hacking into an aircraft’s avionic systems or servers, with potentially disastrous consequences”, noted research author Gareth Owen.

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