Advanced Television

17,000 aircraft to offer IFC by 2021

May 5, 2017

By Chris Forrester

Almost 50 per cent of all air-travellers will be able to enjoy In Flight Connectivity by 2021, according to a study by Paris-based Euroconsult.  This translates to more than 17,000 planes, up from 6,500 last year.

“In January 2017, over 80 airlines had either installed or committed to install in-flight connectivity (IFC) solutions,” said Pacôme Revillon, CEO at Euroconsult. “This is a dozen more than last year. And while the recent US and UK bans of personal electronic devices on certain flights might impact IFEC dynamics if extended, we believe that aero connectivity is poised for structural growth.”

“Our research (“Prospects for In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity”) confirms that installations will accelerate, and innovation will largely improve the in-flight experience. New generation satellite systems (globally) and air-to-ground networks (in the US and Europe) will dramatically increase available bandwidth. Industry leaders such as Inmarsat, Gogo, Intelsat, SES, ViaSat and new entrants such as SmartSky Networks invest in or have started to deploy networks offering up to hundreds of Gb/s. IFC hardware, from receiving antennas to modems and in-cabin solutions, is also evolving rapidly. Honeywell, ThinKom, Gilat and Zodiac Data Systems for example introduced new antenna solutions in recent months.”

“In the current take-up phase, we observe a diversity in pricing models applied by airlines to passengers, from free access to a premium applied by the hour, by flight or on a monthly basis,” added Revillon. “For airline connectivity suppliers, we estimate that revenues from IFC topped $1 billion in 2016 and should reach $6.5 billion by 2026.”

The news helped put an immediate rise in the share prices of Europe’s leading satellite operators. SES of Luxembourg rose 1.24 per cent on May 4th, while Eutelsat of Paris rose 1.06 per cent. Both are major suppliers of satellite capacity for airlines.

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