In-Stat is forecasting that in-flight Wi-Fi broadband deployments will surpass 6,100 airplanes worldwide in 2015, up from 1,835 planes in 2011. The consultancy noted that take-up rates for in-flight Wi-Fi have increased significantly, growing to an average of 7 percent in 2011 from 4 percent in 2010.
The market is still nascent and is not proving profitable for the airlines. Nonetheless, increased adoption will drive in-flight Wi-Fi service revenues for broadband providers above $1.5 billion in 2015, said In-Stat, noting that new revenue opportunities will be available via additional video and voice services for passengers as well as operational services.
According to Amy Cravens, In-Stat senior analyst, "With more people carrying Wi-Fi-enabled devices, the potential addressable market has increased multi-fold. Additionally, the variety of Wi-Fi-enabled devices has also changed considerably, which will significantly alter the usage of in-flight broadband. More passengers are boarding planes with Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and tablets, as well as laptops, which are able to utilize the service."
The market for in-flight broadband is attracting considerable attention. Qualcomm recently proposed creation of a nationwide wireless network in the 14 GHz to 14.5 GHz band that could support data connections up to 300 Gbps. The company's EV-DO technology forms the terrestrial component of the Gogo (formerly Aircell) in-flight Internet service, which is installed in 1,200 commercial aircraft.
- see this ComputerWorld article
Qualcomm proposes 300 Gbps in-flight mobile broadband technology
Aircell: iPhones account for nearly two-thirds of inflight Wi-Fi connections