Connectivity is quickly becoming the centre point for nearly every aspect of business and social life around the world. The retail sector is increasing their efforts to offer the best in-house Wi-Fi available, and public areas are extending their connectivity reach every day in an effort to encourage more foot traffic. Even remote areas such as broadcasting towers, power stations and reactors are embracing connectivity through IoT solutions.
However, for the aviation industry, inflight connectivity (IFC) has never been a major priority. In a recent survey conducted by Eutelsat, most airlines see IFC as a means to encourage passenger satisfaction and brand loyalty, but do not view it as a primary reason for passengers to choose a specific airline. They also do not view IFC as a means to generate direct ROI. Despite this, passengers are increasingly demanding IFC from airlines. According to a GfK and Inmarsat study, 83% of passengers stated that they preferred to fly with IFC enabled airlines, and 60% even went as far to claim that inflight Wi-Fi is not a luxury but a necessity.
Today, it’s more important than ever for airlines, the transport sector and providers to understand that connectivity, especially within the connected transport context, will play a critical role in 2020 and beyond. Those who embrace and enable solutions for their passengers and clients will gain a defining competitive edge for their business.
Here are some factors to consider within the IFC landscape.
Expect a new landscape within IFC to emerge within the next 6 - 24 months
Due to international lockdowns and travel restrictions, many airlines have chosen to cut back on many of their services. IFC providers are one of the many companies that have felt the full force of these decisions.
Specialised investment experts are expecting significant opportunities to acquire aero-related businesses at vastly reduced prices in the coming months due to the economic turmoil experienced by the aviation industry, specifically within IFC providers. However, the consumer demand for IFC is continuing to grow, ensuring that there will always be a need for such companies. Due to this, we can expect a new landscape within the IFC industry with new approaches, businesses and technologies.
The future of IFC is a frequency and hardware agnostic environment
One of the many aspects of IFC (and many transport-centric connectivity solutions) that impacts their adoption rate is the requirement of specific hardware to run the solution and enable connectivity. As a pre-requisite for their services, IFC providers require airlines to purchase and install hardware that only works with their service, effectively forcing airlines to reinstall expensive hardware each time they wish to change providers.
However, this is changing with initiatives such as the Seamless Air Alliance. The Seamless Air Alliance has made major strides to establish a modular platform architecture for inflight connectivity. This will enable airlines to rapidly adopt new technologies without requiring customisation or the complete replacement of equipment on the aircraft or fleet, ensuring long-term technical flexibility and seamless roaming with mobile network operators.
IFC service providers that are able to supply an agnostic environment and enable service continuity to airlines without them having to change any hardware onboard will gain a significant competitive advantage over other providers. This will enable the creation of an IFC sector that is simpler, more transparent and addresses the actual business needs of the airline with far more flexibility than ever experienced within this specific sector.
Airlines are beginning to prioritise IFC (slowly)
Many airlines have already noted the importance of IFC to remain competitive, however, the growing demand combined with the indirect benefits of retaining customer loyalty and satisfaction will soon make IFC a determining factor between airline success and failure. Many airlines are beginning to notice this and have already begun to think about how they can have more control and flexibility over their connectivity solutions.
Airlines are increasingly looking to buy their own hardware, implement their e-commerce applications and procure connectivity services more directly, when possible or relevant. This approach can unlock the hardware at the airline level and enable greater degrees of freedom when looking for the best service partner. If this approach works then it is possible that this could become a ‘new way to connect’ for specific types of airlines.
Get ahead of the curve - find out more
IFC is just one example of a global trend. The landscape for connectivity solutions in transport is changing, and many opportunities for transport and connectivity providers are presenting themselves every day. Now is the time to seize them and secure a competitive advantage, and more information about how solutions such as IFC are evolving will be essential to any business seeking to ensure a leg up on the competition.
If you would like a more in-depth view of the IFC environment for airlines and connectivity providers alike, we have a research paper filled with trends, insights and information critical to the success of any business operating within the sector.
Download our free IFC whitepaper to discover:
● What opportunities exist within the industry.
● How the industry will radically change within the next few years.
● What passengers expect from their airlines today.
● How important IFC is to passengers and airlines.
● How new technologies such as LEO satellites and Ka-band will influence the sector
● And much more.