In-flight Wi-Fi is a term used to describe internet services provided to passengers onboard an aircraft, which are accessed via personal electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. In communication technologies, Wi-Fi is increasingly deployed in corporations, the transportation sector, healthcare, and other areas for wireless transmission of information over radio waves. The use of Wi-Fi technology enables wireless connectivity between devices through radio waves in the frequency between 2.4GHz and 5 GHz.
Increasing Demand for Internet ‘On-the-go’ Drives Asia Pacific In-flight Wi-Fi Market
In the transportation sector, especially for air travel, increasing consumer demand to be able to access high bandwidth internet applications such as high definition visual content and surf media-rich web content is driving the growth of the in-flight Wi-Fi market. This demand has been predominantly observed in developed regions.
In developing regions of the world, such as Asia Pacific, increasing consumer awareness for in-flight services and imitation of habits of Westerners is leading to increasing demand for ‘on-the-go’ services for video and audio content. In this regard, airlines are luring customers with increased internet bandwidth and faster connectivity onboard, thus, leveraging the differentiator services aspect in consumers’ minds for in-flight connectivity.
Across the world, aviation authorities are stipulating regulations that are favorable for the use of electronic devices on-board by passengers. These have been devised taking care of the entertainment needs of passengers, which allows them to use smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players, among other electronic devices, especially for long distance flights.
Owing to these favorable factors, the global in-flight Wi-Fi market will rise at a remarkable 14.90% CAGR from 2015 to 2021.
However, the high initial cost involved in the installation of hardware for Wi-Fi signals and a corresponding increase in cabin weight are adding to the operational costs of airlines. This, in turn, is restraining the growth of the in-flight Wi-Fi market to some extent.
Major Segmentation of In-flight Wi-Fi Market
Technology, type, and region are the three criteria that divide the global market for in-flight Wi-Fi. By type, hardware and service are the segments of the market. Between the two segments, it is the hardware segment that dominated, accounting for more than 60% revenue contribution to the overall market in 2014.
On the basis of technology, air-to-ground and satellite are the two technologies that divide the in-flight Wi-Fi market. In 2014, air-to-ground was the dominant segment based on technology; however, satellite technology segment will emerge to be the dominant segment by 2021. This is due to the growing adoption of satellite technologies such as Ka-band and Ku-band by airlines across the world.
The regional segments of the global in-flight Wi-Fi market are North America, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Whilst North America stood as the clear leader in the in-flight Wi-Fi market in 2014, the region will lose its revenue contribution by 2021. The Asia Pacific regional segment will exhibit the fastest growth with a CAGR of more than 25.0% until the end of 2021.
Some of the major companies operating in the global in-flight Wi-Fi market are Gogo Inc. ViaSat Inc., Panasonic Corporation, Honeywell International Inc., Thinkom Solutions Inc., Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., Thales Group, Sita, and Kymeta Corporation.
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