Growth in number of air travelers and Wi-Fi connectivity preferences is majorly driving the market for in-Flight Wi-Fi globally. The global airspace is witnessing a significant growth in air travelers, travelling in short, medium and long haul routes. In-flight Wi-Fi allows air passengers to get online, do basic browsing, to get connected using cell phones via voice calls, emails, and SMS or MMS. Currently, there is an increase in the number of business and general air travelers. Thus, airline operators are more focused towards offering passengers with the benefit of using mobile phones for data connectivity, as well as for voice calls in domestic and international flights
The leading participants in the market of in-flight Wi-Fi include GoGo LLC, Honeywell International Inc., Echostar Corporation, Kymeta Corporation, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Viasat Inc., Sitaonair, Thales Group, Thinkom Solutions Inc., and Global Eagle Entertainment Inc
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The In-Flight Wi-Fi connectivity provides more convenience to air travelers, however, this is relatively expensive technology and airlines have to bear a significant cost to introduce the connectivity equipment on the aircraft. This may lead to the increased cost of tickets for travelers. Currently, airlines use two types of technologies to provide internet connectivity to aircraft, namely Air to Ground and satellite. Air to Ground technology is cheaper as compared to satellite technology, whereas, it functions better only when aircraft are flying across the land. The primary benefit of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi is improved coverage, speed, and increased reliability. This technology provides coverage all over the globe including over oceans, however, it is considered relatively expensive and has higher latency. There can be an interruption in network connection due to aircraft location, satellite switch, weather, and crossing of the polar region.
Currently, major In-Flight Wi-Fi implementation is limited to the North American region, though this scenario is anticipated to change in coming years, owing to increase in the number of passengers and their connectivity preferences, in Asia-Pacific regions and developing economies. For instance, in Asia-Pacific, Virgin Australia and Qantas are planning to upgrade the majority of its fleet with in-flight Wi-Fi services by the end of 2018. Also, Hainan and Xiamen airlines have equipped some of their international fleet with In-flight Wi-Fi service. Asia is the fastest developing region and is becoming the major region for business travelers, and the business travel spending in this region is projected to escalate at a much higher rate as compared to Europe and North America. Along with Asia-Pacific, the significant growth is expected across Latin America due to the increase in the number of connected aircraft. Currently, North America accounted for a majority of share for In-Flight Wi-Fi connected aircraft globally. Thus, other regions hold many opportunities for In-Flight Wi-Fi connected aircraft in near future.
The market for in-flight Wi-Fi is segmented on basis of parameters such as types, aircraft types, technology and geography. The types segment include hardware and service, which are again segmented; hardware segment into antennas, wireless LANs, hotspot gateways, servers, access point devices, and others. The service segment include integration & implementation services, network planning & design services, content services, and others. The aircraft type is categorized as narrow body aircraft, wide body aircraft and business jets. The technology segment is bifurcated as air to ground technology and satellite technology. Geographically the market is classified into five strategic regions as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and South America.
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