The race to make airplane wi-fi less terrible
For many travelers, Wi-Fi on planes has gone from luxury to expectation. And the good news is that airborne Wi-Fi providers say the service will likely become free on most flights in about two years, writes Scott McCartney for the Wall Street Journal.
The Intelligent Aerospace take:
July 18, 2019-In an increasingly connected world, airlines will have to beef up their satellite internet connections to meet demand. Currently, McCartney notes, carriers utilize services like Gogo for Wi-Fi connectivity, and because of limited bandwidth on satellite internet connections, airlines had to adjust price based on passenger demand. A lot like rideshare companies who implement "surge pricing," jacking up the price is meant to cool demand and usage. If most people in the cabin were using the limited bandwidth, everyone's service would come to a crawl.
Thankfully, modern systems are better suited to allow wider usage. In a sliding scale, fee-charged Wi-Fi service, McCartney notes that as little as 6-7% of passengers opt to purchase access. If it's free, 40-60% of passengers would opt in, and allow sponsors to reach those passengers. For example, Amazon sponsors free Wi-Fi on Jetblue flights.
The Wall Street Journal notes that internet connectivity that's free for passengers will ingratiate good will for carriers as many surveyed have listed internet access as a more important consideration than food or even legroom/comfort in the overall satisfaction with their flights. That bodes well for airline electronics and SATCOM manufacturers as airlines will outfit new aircraft with the latest equipment and may look to retrofit its existing aircraft to keep pace with competitors in the air, stock market, and information super highway.
Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor