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Could Smartphones Takeover from Body-Worn Cameras in Video Recording for the Police?

Introduction

Recently, the Jersey City Police Department completed testing the CopCast mobile app video recording app becoming the first department in the United States to use the technology.

CopCast is a mobile app that enables an Android smartphone to perform similar functions as a dedicated body-worn camera, such as Taser’s AXOM, VIEVU’s LE5 and Pinnacle Response’s PR6.

A police officer can simply attach a standard smartphone in a harness to their person and achieve the same type of video footage quality, connectivity capabilities, data feedback metrics and battery performance.

Over the last few months, the Jersey police force tested the mobile app with 10 officers.

More about Copcast

Copcast was initially designed by the Igarape Instituté in 2013. The open source Android mobile app has been used by a number of police officers, primarily in South Africa and Brazil.

The principle pillar of the technology, worked on in collaboration with Jigsaw and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), is to enable an alternative low-cost solution to conventional body-worn cameras and software.

In Valour Consultancy’s report on enterprise body-worn camera deployment, we could see the potential for tens of thousands of smartphone-based recording solutions used in the policing and law enforcement.

Implications

CopCast is not the only smartphone-based solution available for enterprise body-worn video. Utility, a US-based company, also offers a similar solution albeit with the smartphone, harness, and garments included.

With the mass adoption of smartphones in the last five years, these devices have all the capabilities of a body-worn camera – image and audio sensors, memory drive, and array of connectivity components – but at a much lower cost. In some cases, a smartphone could cost less than $50 to the manufacturer, rather than around $100-200 or even more.

Additionally, live streaming of video and GPS coordinates of a smartphone/user are already commonly used by many consumer applications.

Could this new solution pose much worry to companies such as Taser, Edesix and VIEVU?

The emergence of a much lower cost recording solution, with similar capabilities to dedicated offers, is obviously a concern for body-worn camera vendors.

Nonetheless, one of the most critical aspects of the market is the recording and storage software that manages the video footage recordings, and the most commercially lucrative element of the ecosystem.

Among a host of security companies, Taser has expanded its evidence.com solution (video management system) extensively in the last two years.

CopCast provides a basic free version of the app for managing and storing footage, but it is sensible to assume this is rather limited in data footage, and its capabilities. We are unsure on the features included a premium version and what features are included, and will look into this in future blogs.

It is reported that Jersey City Police Department will equip up to 250 police officers with CopCast’s smartphone solution in the future.

One of the most desirable attributes of the app is that it can be continually revised and developed further to cater for the Jersey police department’s changing requirements.

Ultimately, CopCast, as the CEO of Jigsaw, Jared Cohen, states, will help lower the barriers to entry and reduce the costs of body-worn camera systems, improving police accountability and enhancing trust with citizens and law enforcement officers.

We can only wait and see if smartphones will challenge body-worn cameras in policing but this is a win-win situation for the us, the public.

Valour Consultancy offers a comprehensive overview of the body-worn camera and system market, providing market breakouts of body-worn camera types, connectivity technology and key applications.

Additionally, company profiles are provided for all the key players in the market. For information on the enterprise body-worn camera and system market, click here.

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Introduction

Recently, the Jersey City Police Department completed testing the CopCast mobile app video recording app becoming the first department in the United States to use the technology. CopCast is a mobile app that enables an Android smartphone to perform similar functions as a dedicated body-worn camera, such as Taser’s AXOM, VIEVU’s LE5 and Pinnacle Response’s PR6. A police officer can simply attach a standard smartphone in a harness to their person and achieve the same type of video footage quality, connectivity capabilities, data feedback metrics and battery performance. Over the last few months, the Jersey police force tested the mobile app with 10 officers.

More about Copcast

Copcast was initially designed by the Igarape Instituté in 2013. The open source Android mobile app has been used by a number of police officers, primarily in South Africa and Brazil. The principle pillar of the technology, worked on in collaboration with Jigsaw and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), is to enable an alternative low-cost solution to conventional body-worn cameras and software. In Valour Consultancy’s report on enterprise body-worn camera deployment, we could see the potential for tens of thousands of smartphone-based recording solutions used in the policing and law enforcement.

Implications

CopCast is not the only smartphone-based solution available for enterprise body-worn video. Utility, a US-based company, also offers a similar solution albeit with the smartphone, harness, and garments included. With the mass adoption of smartphones in the last five years, these devices have all the capabilities of a body-worn camera – image and audio sensors, memory drive, and array of connectivity components – but at a much lower cost. In some cases, a smartphone could cost less than $50 to the manufacturer, rather than around $100-200 or even more. Additionally, live streaming of video and GPS coordinates of a smartphone/user are already commonly used by many consumer applications.

Could this new solution pose much worry to companies such as Taser, Edesix and VIEVU?

The emergence of a much lower cost recording solution, with similar capabilities to dedicated offers, is obviously a concern for body-worn camera vendors. Nonetheless, one of the most critical aspects of the market is the recording and storage software that manages the video footage recordings, and the most commercially lucrative element of the ecosystem. Among a host of security companies, Taser has expanded its evidence.com solution (video management system) extensively in the last two years. CopCast provides a basic free version of the app for managing and storing footage, but it is sensible to assume this is rather limited in data footage, and its capabilities. We are unsure on the features included a premium version and what features are included, and will look into this in future blogs. It is reported that Jersey City Police Department will equip up to 250 police officers with CopCast’s smartphone solution in the future. One of the most desirable attributes of the app is that it can be continually revised and developed further to cater for the Jersey police department’s changing requirements. Ultimately, CopCast, as the CEO of Jigsaw, Jared Cohen, states, will help lower the barriers to entry and reduce the costs of body-worn camera systems, improving police accountability and enhancing trust with citizens and law enforcement officers. We can only wait and see if smartphones will challenge body-worn cameras in policing but this is a win-win situation for the us, the public. Valour Consultancy offers a comprehensive overview of the body-worn camera and system market, providing market breakouts of body-worn camera types, connectivity technology and key applications. Additionally, company profiles are provided for all the key players in the market. For information on the enterprise body-worn camera and system market, click here. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

COMSAT and Speedcast: A Partnership that Enhances Trust and Customised Solutions for the Government

In the midst of global communications and sea-to-land connectivity developments, the government sector is inevitably striving to enhance major defence and communication technologies with key, fully trusted providers of satellite communications and IT experts. Though fewer stories can be disclosed as a form of authentic exemplification on this matter, the formal partnership between Speedcast and COMSAT speaks highly for the exposition of government challenges and, thereupon, benefits of innovative Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) solutions.

Accordingly, Speedcast has entered into a strategic agreement with government satellite connectivity provider COMSAT to implement a jointly run global service offering of Ku-band VSAT services for governmental and other maritime service environments. In the pursuit of higher data rates for small ship antenna systems and spatial coverage, the combined network of Ku-band frequencies will power Speedcast’s roughly 8 GHz-band of global satellite capacity and COMSAT’s strategically allocated commercial teleport facilities in the United States in order to strengthen coverage for connectivity services.

It should be underlined that both actors have played a critical role in the global SATCOM industry, demonstrating proven trust records of intense customer focus, strong safety culture, and a holistic understanding of end-to-end remote satellite solutions under governmental communication needs. For instance, as a founding member of Intelsat, COMSAT, has pioneered the art of mobile satellite communications services to the US Navy by inserting the Marisat fleet network, while setting up the initial operating system of Inmarsat from the company’s two earth stations.

Speedcast has also distinguished itself with strong operational expertise in satellite communications, differentiated technologies, and world-class customer support. With more than three decades of experience in remote communications, Speedcast has also become the first partner of Tampnet for the implanting of 4G/LTE services in the Gulf of Mexico, which will take effect upon completion in 2018. As the winner of the 2017 WTA Independent Teleport of the year, Speedcast has also enhanced unbeatable trust and success with the January 2017 acquisition of Harris Caprock, upgrading its global infrastructure and securing organic-inorganic growth.

Together, both companies could facilitate government/military users access to the iDirect bandwidth network to guarantee reliable and secure connectivity for mission-critical applications. “COMSAT has always been at the forefront of SATCOM technology, innovating to provide enhanced services and support for our customers’ benefit,” said David Greenhill, president at COMSAT. “We recognise the same passion in the Speedcast team. This collaboration will allow us to mutually broaden our markets and better serve our customers.”

Yet, the government sector has differentiated requirements in regards to VSAT solutions, which encompasses public services, public safety, coverage, steady connectivity, and network security for the protection of mission-critical data and classified information. As government organisations and military agencies are switching to VSAT services for innovative network solutions, the satellite communications industry still has key challenges to rapidly overcome if it is to remain competitive.

Keeping up with the correct amount of bandwidth and capacity at any given time is a major challenge that requires careful planning against technical complexities. Failure to predict and allocate bandwidth options that fulfil the needs of the customer is not only proven to be costly and inefficient but also leads to a severe case of underperformance. Pivotally, military agencies urge global coverage to carry out critical missions at remote locations, which strictly requires a communication package that speaks for scalable bandwidth, improved-location capacity, and flexibility that adheres to a dynamic operational environment.

To add to the challenge, there is an increasing emphasis on mobility and integration of processes that complicates the delivery of seamless connectivity on demand. In an age of globalised, lopsided military missions, government customers are expecting solutions that support the use of ever-accumulating voice, data consumption, video applications, and other data-intensive features across a wide array of environments. Providers who take connectivity at heart, strive for integration of complex satellite communication solutions within an end-to-end managed service architecture, as a network design that allows users for anytime and anyplace access.

More importantly, as in the case of both, COMSAT and Speedcast, who enjoy full expertise in providing sufficient network capacity, coverage, and consistency to government users, critical importance should always be given to public safety and network security amongst other differentiated demands. Not acknowledging that success lies in the understanding of safety and security applications in this ubiquitous market, speaks for insufficient market understanding, fragmented deployment of network solutions, and dysfunctional models that jeopardise the protection of all information warfare and other sensitive data.

Far from the complexities against sophisticated innovations in regards to maritime communications, the strategic partnership between Speedcast and COMSAT not only highlights the vital expertise that both actors share in the provision of customised, end-to-end satellite communications solutions, but it also brings sound economic and engineering benefits to the strategic installation of a global network that supports public/data protection, resiliency, solid infrastructure, emergency/disaster backup responses, compatibility for the use of data-intensive applications, and instant communications capabilities of data on the move.

Precisely, as PJ Beylier, Speedcast’s CEO reported, “The opportunity for collaboration with COMSAT fits very well with Speedcast’s commitment to delivering robust, reliable, secure global communications solutions to government and military customers, no matter where operations take them… COMSAT’s experience in the government segment combined with our unmatched capacity, global network and customer support enable us to offer highly reliable and secure solutions to our customers.”

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_text] In the midst of global communications and sea-to-land connectivity developments, the government sector is inevitably striving to enhance major defence and communication technologies with key, fully trusted providers of satellite communications and IT experts. Though fewer stories can be disclosed as a form of authentic exemplification on this matter, the formal partnership between Speedcast and COMSAT speaks highly for the exposition of government challenges and, thereupon, benefits of innovative Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) solutions. Accordingly, Speedcast has entered into a strategic agreement with government satellite connectivity provider COMSAT to implement a jointly run global service offering of Ku-band VSAT services for governmental and other maritime service environments. In the pursuit of higher data rates for small ship antenna systems and spatial coverage, the combined network of Ku-band frequencies will power Speedcast’s roughly 8 GHz-band of global satellite capacity and COMSAT’s strategically allocated commercial teleport facilities in the United States in order to strengthen coverage for connectivity services. It should be underlined that both actors have played a critical role in the global SATCOM industry, demonstrating proven trust records of intense customer focus, strong safety culture, and a holistic understanding of end-to-end remote satellite solutions under governmental communication needs. For instance, as a founding member of Intelsat, COMSAT, has pioneered the art of mobile satellite communications services to the US Navy by inserting the Marisat fleet network, while setting up the initial operating system of Inmarsat from the company’s two earth stations. Speedcast has also distinguished itself with strong operational expertise in satellite communications, differentiated technologies, and world-class customer support. With more than three decades of experience in remote communications, Speedcast has also become the first partner of Tampnet for the implanting of 4G/LTE services in the Gulf of Mexico, which will take effect upon completion in 2018. As the winner of the 2017 WTA Independent Teleport of the year, Speedcast has also enhanced unbeatable trust and success with the January 2017 acquisition of Harris Caprock, upgrading its global infrastructure and securing organic-inorganic growth. Together, both companies could facilitate government/military users access to the iDirect bandwidth network to guarantee reliable and secure connectivity for mission-critical applications. “COMSAT has always been at the forefront of SATCOM technology, innovating to provide enhanced services and support for our customers’ benefit,” said David Greenhill, president at COMSAT. “We recognise the same passion in the Speedcast team. This collaboration will allow us to mutually broaden our markets and better serve our customers.” Yet, the government sector has differentiated requirements in regards to VSAT solutions, which encompasses public services, public safety, coverage, steady connectivity, and network security for the protection of mission-critical data and classified information. As government organisations and military agencies are switching to VSAT services for innovative network solutions, the satellite communications industry still has key challenges to rapidly overcome if it is to remain competitive. Keeping up with the correct amount of bandwidth and capacity at any given time is a major challenge that requires careful planning against technical complexities. Failure to predict and allocate bandwidth options that fulfil the needs of the customer is not only proven to be costly and inefficient but also leads to a severe case of underperformance. Pivotally, military agencies urge global coverage to carry out critical missions at remote locations, which strictly requires a communication package that speaks for scalable bandwidth, improved-location capacity, and flexibility that adheres to a dynamic operational environment. To add to the challenge, there is an increasing emphasis on mobility and integration of processes that complicates the delivery of seamless connectivity on demand. In an age of globalised, lopsided military missions, government customers are expecting solutions that support the use of ever-accumulating voice, data consumption, video applications, and other data-intensive features across a wide array of environments. Providers who take connectivity at heart, strive for integration of complex satellite communication solutions within an end-to-end managed service architecture, as a network design that allows users for anytime and anyplace access. More importantly, as in the case of both, COMSAT and Speedcast, who enjoy full expertise in providing sufficient network capacity, coverage, and consistency to government users, critical importance should always be given to public safety and network security amongst other differentiated demands. Not acknowledging that success lies in the understanding of safety and security applications in this ubiquitous market, speaks for insufficient market understanding, fragmented deployment of network solutions, and dysfunctional models that jeopardise the protection of all information warfare and other sensitive data. Far from the complexities against sophisticated innovations in regards to maritime communications, the strategic partnership between Speedcast and COMSAT not only highlights the vital expertise that both actors share in the provision of customised, end-to-end satellite communications solutions, but it also brings sound economic and engineering benefits to the strategic installation of a global network that supports public/data protection, resiliency, solid infrastructure, emergency/disaster backup responses, compatibility for the use of data-intensive applications, and instant communications capabilities of data on the move. Precisely, as PJ Beylier, Speedcast’s CEO reported, “The opportunity for collaboration with COMSAT fits very well with Speedcast’s commitment to delivering robust, reliable, secure global communications solutions to government and military customers, no matter where operations take them… COMSAT’s experience in the government segment combined with our unmatched capacity, global network and customer support enable us to offer highly reliable and secure solutions to our customers.” [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

The Market for In-Flight Connectivity on VIP and Business Aircraft

Last month, Valour Consultancy released its latest analysis of the market for in-flight connectivity on VIP and business aircraft. The study draws upon our considerable expertise in analysing the adoption of in-flight connectivity (IFC) in commercial aviation and is the result of a rigorous primary research phase consisting of numerous interviews with key players from across the industry.

The report finds that, globally, there were 19,131 IFC systems on VIP and business aircraft at the end of 2016. L-band was by far and away the most dominant connectivity technology with cumulative connections representing 75% of the total. A large proportion of this is accounted for by Iridium, whose systems support in-flight satellite phone operations on almost 10,000 aircraft. The remainder of L-band connections are accounted for by Inmarsat, which has seen adoption of SwiftBroadband (SBB) pick up rapidly in recent years.

Uptake of Gogo’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) options has been similarly brisk in recent years. By the end 2013, there were 2,047 terminals connected to the Gogo Biz network. This had increased to 4,172 three years later.

ATG and L-band both have room for further growth in coming years, too.

With respect to ATG, there will likely be continued interest in Gogo’s solutions over the course of the forecast period (2016 to 2026), especially now that the company is close to commercial launch of Gogo Biz 4G and plans to have its next-generation ATG network, which will offer peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps, up and running by 2018.

When you add SmartSky Networks and its 4G network into the mix, as well as the Inmarsat European Aviation Network (EAN), it is apparent that there remains plenty of potential for ATG technology. Though it is yet to be officially confirmed whether the EAN will be used by the business aviation industry, there appears to be consensus that it would work very well on board private aircraft.

While Inmarsat is reportedly seeing a lot of interest from operators looking to upgrade from lower-bandwidth IFC systems to Jet ConneX, the company is also working on increasing the performance of the L-band technology used for SBB. Iridium, meanwhile, is currently prepping for the launch of the second batch of Iridium NEXT satellites, which are due for lift off on the 25th June. Upon completion of the constellation in 2018 and the start of commercial service one year later, the so-called Iridium Certus solution will likely find favour among operators of those small- and medium-sized business jets less suited to the fitment of bulky radomes.

Adoption of Ku-band technology on VIP and business aircraft appears to have an equally rosy future – a view presumably shared by new market entrants, Panasonic Avionics and Global Eagle, as well as Gogo, which recently announced its first business aviation customer for 2Ku. Right now, there are some 500 Ku-band systems in operation on VIP and business aircraft and the vast majority of these are accounted for by ViaSat and its Yonder system (although it’s no longer referred to as Yonder, to shift the focus towards the ViaSat brand). Panasonic and Global Eagle representatives have not been shy in admitting that they are gunning for ViaSat in this market.

However, ViaSat appears content to focus on ensuring existing clients migrate to its Ka-band technology – a sensible strategy given the ongoing success of its Exede in the Air product in commercial aviation. Now that ViaSat-2 has finally launched after several setbacks, there will soon be a considerable amount of additional Ka-band capacity for business jets flying between North America and Europe. Additionally, the company says that it will have its three planned ViaSat-3 satellites operational around 2020 making ViaSat the only rival provider of global Ka-band capacity to Inmarsat.

By 2020, ViaSat could have some catching up to do if the take up of Jet ConneX is anything to go by. Having debuted in November 2016, there were an estimated 30 aircraft fitted with the solution by the turn of the year. Inmarsat has previously stated that it expects to see 150 Jet ConneX-equipped aircraft by the end of 2017 and has a goal of connecting 3,000 jets by 2020 (although it is apparently now upgrading its forecasts).

Overall, we are forecasting that by the end of 2026, there will be 37,710 IFC systems installed on VIP and business aircraft – almost double the current total. The reader should, of course, note that these numbers do not refer to the number of aircraft with IFC. In fact, it is estimated that today, around 1,000 to 2,000 aircraft with Iridium satellite phones also make use of Inmarsat’s SBB network. Likewise, Gogo has publicly reported 4,172 connections to its Gogo Biz service and acts as the service provider for 5,286 installed Iridium terminals as well as 214 installed SBB terminals (a total of 9,972 connections – all accurate and up to date at the end of 2016). However, the firm delivers services to 7,400 aircraft implying many are flying with more than one system installed.

The following factors have driven interest in IFC on VIP and business aircraft and will continue to do so in future:

  • Owners of business aircraft fitted with connectivity equipment some time ago will be keener to take advantage of more recent advances in satellite and hardware technology.
  • The ‘Uber-isation’ of the private aviation industry is increasingly being talked about and with e-commerce replacing traditional methods of sourcing and booking a business jet, easy comparisons between different operators and aircraft means that customers can see where one aircraft has IFC and another doesn’t. This transparency will further encourage operators to improve their offerings.
  • As well as the increased comparison between business jets and their features because of new e-commerce initiatives, business aviation is having to compete with the rapid adoption of IFC in commercial air transport perhaps making a first class connected seat more attractive than a private jet with no in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • Competition is hotting up with the likes of Global Eagle, Panasonic Avionics, BizJetMobile and SmartSky Networks all new to the market or preparing to enter.
  • The launch of several new high throughput satellites (HTS) and the prospect of cheaper capacity and faster services is having an extremely positive effect on the market with service providers having inked several new deals in recent years.
  • The connected aircraft and e-Enablement is beginning to resonate more and more as a way to drive operational efficiencies and help underpin the IFC business case.

Some of the remaining challenges to more widespread adoption of IFC on VIP and business aircraft are as follows.

  • Production of new business jets has stagnated and consequently reduced the possibility of line-fit offerability deals for many IFC providers and limited their opportunities for growth.
  • Fitting an aircraft with a sizeable antenna to enable IFC impacts aerodynamics and increases fuel burn, thereby driving up operating costs. Additionally, many smaller business jets are currently unable to accommodate larger Ku- and Ka-band antennas on their fuselages.
  • Current generation Ku-/Ka-band systems lock operators into the service provider (so the hardware is not provider agnostic) and should there be a desire to switch, a very expensive refit ensues.
  • While commercial airlines tend to fly set routes at specific times of day, business jets are more sporadic. One day they may be flying domestically in the US, the next they may be making their way to China or Russia. This uncertainty means high-bandwidth IFC solutions that offer global coverage – which are currently few in number – are perhaps more compelling.
  • Many in the industry are concerned that as we move towards realising the vision of the fully-connected aircraft, the opportunity for cyberattacks will increase. The main worry seems to be that such systems will allow wrongdoers to control aircraft and manipulate commands issued to the aircraft. It should be noted that flight control systems are purposefully isolated from all other communications networks on-board the aircraft.
  • Selling an IFC service based on deployment events that have not happened is a significant challenge and operators understandably give much more credit to satellite assets in space than on paper. Further, a delay to the launch of any service has the potential to scare prospective customers away or send them into the arms of rivals. Unfortunately, such delays are all too commonplace for many much-anticipated IFC solutions.

Published in May 2017, “The Market for In-Flight Connectivity on VIP and Business Aircraft” provides an unrivalled insight and analysis into the current and future deployment of IFC on these aircraft. The number of IFC systems installed in 2016 is quantified with forecasts out to 2026 and data is segmented by fitment type, aircraft size, frequency band and geographic region with a full qualitative discussion of the key trends at play in support of this. The report also sizes the market for both service revenues and key enabling hardware, in addition to market share estimates for service providers and capacity providers. A chapter profiling key players is presented, too.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4980|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/luxury-1961577_960_720-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Last month, Valour Consultancy released its latest analysis of the market for in-flight connectivity on VIP and business aircraft. The study draws upon our considerable expertise in analysing the adoption of in-flight connectivity (IFC) in commercial aviation and is the result of a rigorous primary research phase consisting of numerous interviews with key players from across the industry. The report finds that, globally, there were 19,131 IFC systems on VIP and business aircraft at the end of 2016. L-band was by far and away the most dominant connectivity technology with cumulative connections representing 75% of the total. A large proportion of this is accounted for by Iridium, whose systems support in-flight satellite phone operations on almost 10,000 aircraft. The remainder of L-band connections are accounted for by Inmarsat, which has seen adoption of SwiftBroadband (SBB) pick up rapidly in recent years. Uptake of Gogo’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) options has been similarly brisk in recent years. By the end 2013, there were 2,047 terminals connected to the Gogo Biz network. This had increased to 4,172 three years later. ATG and L-band both have room for further growth in coming years, too. With respect to ATG, there will likely be continued interest in Gogo’s solutions over the course of the forecast period (2016 to 2026), especially now that the company is close to commercial launch of Gogo Biz 4G and plans to have its next-generation ATG network, which will offer peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps, up and running by 2018. When you add SmartSky Networks and its 4G network into the mix, as well as the Inmarsat European Aviation Network (EAN), it is apparent that there remains plenty of potential for ATG technology. Though it is yet to be officially confirmed whether the EAN will be used by the business aviation industry, there appears to be consensus that it would work very well on board private aircraft. While Inmarsat is reportedly seeing a lot of interest from operators looking to upgrade from lower-bandwidth IFC systems to Jet ConneX, the company is also working on increasing the performance of the L-band technology used for SBB. Iridium, meanwhile, is currently prepping for the launch of the second batch of Iridium NEXT satellites, which are due for lift off on the 25th June. Upon completion of the constellation in 2018 and the start of commercial service one year later, the so-called Iridium Certus solution will likely find favour among operators of those small- and medium-sized business jets less suited to the fitment of bulky radomes. Adoption of Ku-band technology on VIP and business aircraft appears to have an equally rosy future – a view presumably shared by new market entrants, Panasonic Avionics and Global Eagle, as well as Gogo, which recently announced its first business aviation customer for 2Ku. Right now, there are some 500 Ku-band systems in operation on VIP and business aircraft and the vast majority of these are accounted for by ViaSat and its Yonder system (although it's no longer referred to as Yonder, to shift the focus towards the ViaSat brand). Panasonic and Global Eagle representatives have not been shy in admitting that they are gunning for ViaSat in this market. However, ViaSat appears content to focus on ensuring existing clients migrate to its Ka-band technology – a sensible strategy given the ongoing success of its Exede in the Air product in commercial aviation. Now that ViaSat-2 has finally launched after several setbacks, there will soon be a considerable amount of additional Ka-band capacity for business jets flying between North America and Europe. Additionally, the company says that it will have its three planned ViaSat-3 satellites operational around 2020 making ViaSat the only rival provider of global Ka-band capacity to Inmarsat. By 2020, ViaSat could have some catching up to do if the take up of Jet ConneX is anything to go by. Having debuted in November 2016, there were an estimated 30 aircraft fitted with the solution by the turn of the year. Inmarsat has previously stated that it expects to see 150 Jet ConneX-equipped aircraft by the end of 2017 and has a goal of connecting 3,000 jets by 2020 (although it is apparently now upgrading its forecasts). Overall, we are forecasting that by the end of 2026, there will be 37,710 IFC systems installed on VIP and business aircraft – almost double the current total. The reader should, of course, note that these numbers do not refer to the number of aircraft with IFC. In fact, it is estimated that today, around 1,000 to 2,000 aircraft with Iridium satellite phones also make use of Inmarsat’s SBB network. Likewise, Gogo has publicly reported 4,172 connections to its Gogo Biz service and acts as the service provider for 5,286 installed Iridium terminals as well as 214 installed SBB terminals (a total of 9,972 connections – all accurate and up to date at the end of 2016). However, the firm delivers services to 7,400 aircraft implying many are flying with more than one system installed. The following factors have driven interest in IFC on VIP and business aircraft and will continue to do so in future:
  • Owners of business aircraft fitted with connectivity equipment some time ago will be keener to take advantage of more recent advances in satellite and hardware technology.
  • The ‘Uber-isation’ of the private aviation industry is increasingly being talked about and with e-commerce replacing traditional methods of sourcing and booking a business jet, easy comparisons between different operators and aircraft means that customers can see where one aircraft has IFC and another doesn’t. This transparency will further encourage operators to improve their offerings.
  • As well as the increased comparison between business jets and their features because of new e-commerce initiatives, business aviation is having to compete with the rapid adoption of IFC in commercial air transport perhaps making a first class connected seat more attractive than a private jet with no in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • Competition is hotting up with the likes of Global Eagle, Panasonic Avionics, BizJetMobile and SmartSky Networks all new to the market or preparing to enter.
  • The launch of several new high throughput satellites (HTS) and the prospect of cheaper capacity and faster services is having an extremely positive effect on the market with service providers having inked several new deals in recent years.
  • The connected aircraft and e-Enablement is beginning to resonate more and more as a way to drive operational efficiencies and help underpin the IFC business case.
Some of the remaining challenges to more widespread adoption of IFC on VIP and business aircraft are as follows.
  • Production of new business jets has stagnated and consequently reduced the possibility of line-fit offerability deals for many IFC providers and limited their opportunities for growth.
  • Fitting an aircraft with a sizeable antenna to enable IFC impacts aerodynamics and increases fuel burn, thereby driving up operating costs. Additionally, many smaller business jets are currently unable to accommodate larger Ku- and Ka-band antennas on their fuselages.
  • Current generation Ku-/Ka-band systems lock operators into the service provider (so the hardware is not provider agnostic) and should there be a desire to switch, a very expensive refit ensues.
  • While commercial airlines tend to fly set routes at specific times of day, business jets are more sporadic. One day they may be flying domestically in the US, the next they may be making their way to China or Russia. This uncertainty means high-bandwidth IFC solutions that offer global coverage – which are currently few in number – are perhaps more compelling.
  • Many in the industry are concerned that as we move towards realising the vision of the fully-connected aircraft, the opportunity for cyberattacks will increase. The main worry seems to be that such systems will allow wrongdoers to control aircraft and manipulate commands issued to the aircraft. It should be noted that flight control systems are purposefully isolated from all other communications networks on-board the aircraft.
  • Selling an IFC service based on deployment events that have not happened is a significant challenge and operators understandably give much more credit to satellite assets in space than on paper. Further, a delay to the launch of any service has the potential to scare prospective customers away or send them into the arms of rivals. Unfortunately, such delays are all too commonplace for many much-anticipated IFC solutions.
Published in May 2017, “The Market for In-Flight Connectivity on VIP and Business Aircraft” provides an unrivalled insight and analysis into the current and future deployment of IFC on these aircraft. The number of IFC systems installed in 2016 is quantified with forecasts out to 2026 and data is segmented by fitment type, aircraft size, frequency band and geographic region with a full qualitative discussion of the key trends at play in support of this. The report also sizes the market for both service revenues and key enabling hardware, in addition to market share estimates for service providers and capacity providers. A chapter profiling key players is presented, too. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Review of Eurowings’ “Wings Entertain” Wireless In-Flight Entertainment

Though I’ve had the pleasure of covering the adoption of wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) for some time now, it was not until recently that I had the chance to try out one of the myriad of systems now on the market. Indeed, a recent short hop to Vienna on Eurowings provided the opportunity to take its fairly new Wings Entertain platform for a spin.

The technology behind Wings Entertain is provided by Lufthansa Systems. In fact, the solution I used was based on the BoardConnect Portable product that was rolled out on more than 70 Eurowings aircraft during August 2016. These portable units – also offered by Air Dolomiti, Azul Linhas Aéreas, El Al Israel Airlines and SpiceJet – will be swapped for the fully-installed BoardConnect Classic product as aircraft are equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation Ka-band connectivity system. BoardConnect Classic is already offered by Lufthansa, Virgin Australia, El Al Israel Airlines, AirCalin and Neos.

While I was already aware that Eurowings offers W-IFE, it did strike me as odd that the airline had not done a great deal to promote the availability of this service to other passengers – most of whom do not, presumably, delve deeply into this market for a living! While I did receive an email a week before travelling informing me about Wings Entertain, cabin crew did not make any mention of the service pre-flight let alone provide instructions on how to connect. Instead, an information card in the seat-back pocket provided fairly limited information.

Having downloaded the required app prior to boarding, I loaded it up after we reached cruising altitude and connected to the in-cabin network. Immediately, I was forced to watch a generic, non-skippable video advertisement. The system then loaded up in German, which was unsurprising given that Eurowings is a German carrier. However, it was not at all clear how to change the language to English and I can imagine that more technophobic passengers might have struggled with this and simply cut their losses at this point.

After orientating myself with the user interface (UI), I decided to load up the destination guides section of the system. All in all, it was pretty comprehensive with guides from PXCom included for a variety of cities in 29 countries throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Though packed with lots of interesting information on things to do, I could see no option to book a tour or receive a discount coupon for something like a restaurant booking (Update 4th July 2017: I have now been informed by Cyril Jean, CEO of PXCom, that it is possible to book tours and activities, but not for all of the destinations. Additionally, Mr. Jean explained that there are, in fact, some discount coupons available and that advertisers pay to promote their activities in this way should they so wish). With W-IFE touted by many as a perfect medium through which airlines can generate additional ancillary revenues, this was somewhat surprising. Nevertheless, it was possible to favourite things in order to create a to-do list of sorts.

Overall, I have to say that I found the experience of navigating through the destination guide content to be frustrating. As an example, touching the back button did not take me to the previous page. Rather, it sent me right back to the top menu meaning that I had to re-enter the destination guide area, and navigate back to the relevant country and city. Unbeknownst to me was the existence of another, far less prominent, back arrow that did actually link to the previous page. Additionally, some of the content was completely out of date. Travelling in April 2017, I don’t really need or want to know about Christmas markets in 2016! (Update 4th July 2017): Mr. Jean tells me that the next software update is scheduled for Q4 2017 and will see a much-improved UI. He also revealed that content is updated three times a year, which may explain why outdated information on Christmas markets was shown).

No movies were made freely available through the app. Instead, Eurowings opted to charge €3.90 for access to the “premium package” that includes movies. Again, the user interface was lacking with it being far from intuitive or obvious how to purchase said package. In the end, I figured out that you needed to play the trailer in order for an option to buy a voucher for the premium package to appear.

Volume was extremely low on one of the movies I tested and I could not hear the dialogue above the engine noise. However, this was not a problem with other movie titles (I counted 31 to choose from in total). I didn’t encounter buffering at any stage and all the streams that I tried were of good quality. All movies were available in both English and German (including subtitles).

Though I did not watch any TV series (there were seven in total), these were freely available and all had multiple episodes to choose from.

For kids, another bundle was available at a cost of €1.90. This seemed to consist mainly of game content. Indeed, no game content was freely available unless you purchased this bundle. I should mention here that our little girl watched content that we’d made available offline on Netflix and the iPlayer Kids apps on her Amazon Fire tablet. I suspect that other parents did something similar and suspect this is a growing trend airlines and providers of W-IFE systems will have to contend with.

Music/audio content was also available. However, it was necessary to register with Napster to access this content at a “promotional price” of €1 for three months. Existing Napster customers could presumably login in and explore the library available.

The moving map, which is reportedly the most visited part of any IFE system, was rather basic. In fact, I hesitate to call it a moving map. It was more of a 2D flight tracker which, in addition to position, showed the date, ground speed, and altitude. Current time, time to destination or local time was not provided. Disappointingly, there was no functionality to zoom into street level and explore the terrain below in more detail – a feature that would represent the ideal opportunity to layer in destination-related content and offers.

Opening Wings Bistro and Wings Shop, Eurowings’ branding for the in-flight menu and in-flight duty-free selection, respectively, caused the system to launch PDF menus. It was not possible to order food and drink items or other goods for sale through the system itself.

An annoying quirk of the app that I noticed is that it doesn’t work well if you want to multi-task. As a test, I switched to another app and when I returned to Wings Entertain, I noticed that it had restarted and I therefore had to endure the same non-skippable video advertisement that I previously encountered. I also had problems when trying to access the airport guides, which caused the app to lock up on multiple occasions.

Furthermore, I noticed that clicking the back button when watching a movie caused the app to minimise instead of returning me to the main menu. Strangely, there was no way to return to the home screen unless you forcibly closed the browser window that the movie plays in. Again, I can imagine this kind of thing easily confounding technophobes.

I should also mention that it was not possible to watch purchased content after the flight and there was no way to retrieve the access code you are given when purchasing a premium package should you lose it. I tried to download my voucher for safe keeping as advised in the FAQs but was presented with a message telling me that the download failed. Even so, it was possible to resume playing a movie where I’d left off after exiting the app.

On the plus side, the DRM technology used in Wings Entertain worked well and I was unable to screenshot a scene from a movie when I tried. I was also unable to listen to content without headphones so as not to disturb other passengers. The system doesn’t tell you that this is the case when you make payment though. Instead, this information is provided in the FAQs.

Having been asked on many occasions to provide my thoughts on the supposed death of embedded in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, one thing that I have been keen to point out is that W-IFE is often installed on aircraft with no in-seat power even though the two go hand in hand. To put this into perspective, I boarded the flight with my battery level at 65%. After playing around with the system for the majority of the flight (which lasted one and a half hours), I disembarked with 27% battery. At this rate of discharge, anyone wishing to consume content via W-IFE on medium- to long-haul flights will seemingly need to board with their devices fully-charged, or have access to in-seat power.

In an effort to establish take rate, I did take a walk around the cabin to see if I could spot anyone else using the system. Unfortunately, it seemed as though I was alone in my journey through Wings Entertain! I therefore completed the survey and upon submitting, was thanked for joining the Eurowings frequent flyer program – an apt way to end my experience given the numerous UI glitches I unfortunately encountered.

-
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4983|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Screenshot_20170426-194459-1-1024x608-1.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Though I’ve had the pleasure of covering the adoption of wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) for some time now, it was not until recently that I had the chance to try out one of the myriad of systems now on the market. Indeed, a recent short hop to Vienna on Eurowings provided the opportunity to take its fairly new Wings Entertain platform for a spin. The technology behind Wings Entertain is provided by Lufthansa Systems. In fact, the solution I used was based on the BoardConnect Portable product that was rolled out on more than 70 Eurowings aircraft during August 2016. These portable units – also offered by Air Dolomiti, Azul Linhas Aéreas, El Al Israel Airlines and SpiceJet – will be swapped for the fully-installed BoardConnect Classic product as aircraft are equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation Ka-band connectivity system. BoardConnect Classic is already offered by Lufthansa, Virgin Australia, El Al Israel Airlines, AirCalin and Neos. While I was already aware that Eurowings offers W-IFE, it did strike me as odd that the airline had not done a great deal to promote the availability of this service to other passengers – most of whom do not, presumably, delve deeply into this market for a living! While I did receive an email a week before travelling informing me about Wings Entertain, cabin crew did not make any mention of the service pre-flight let alone provide instructions on how to connect. Instead, an information card in the seat-back pocket provided fairly limited information. Having downloaded the required app prior to boarding, I loaded it up after we reached cruising altitude and connected to the in-cabin network. Immediately, I was forced to watch a generic, non-skippable video advertisement. The system then loaded up in German, which was unsurprising given that Eurowings is a German carrier. However, it was not at all clear how to change the language to English and I can imagine that more technophobic passengers might have struggled with this and simply cut their losses at this point. After orientating myself with the user interface (UI), I decided to load up the destination guides section of the system. All in all, it was pretty comprehensive with guides from PXCom included for a variety of cities in 29 countries throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Though packed with lots of interesting information on things to do, I could see no option to book a tour or receive a discount coupon for something like a restaurant booking (Update 4th July 2017: I have now been informed by Cyril Jean, CEO of PXCom, that it is possible to book tours and activities, but not for all of the destinations. Additionally, Mr. Jean explained that there are, in fact, some discount coupons available and that advertisers pay to promote their activities in this way should they so wish). With W-IFE touted by many as a perfect medium through which airlines can generate additional ancillary revenues, this was somewhat surprising. Nevertheless, it was possible to favourite things in order to create a to-do list of sorts. Overall, I have to say that I found the experience of navigating through the destination guide content to be frustrating. As an example, touching the back button did not take me to the previous page. Rather, it sent me right back to the top menu meaning that I had to re-enter the destination guide area, and navigate back to the relevant country and city. Unbeknownst to me was the existence of another, far less prominent, back arrow that did actually link to the previous page. Additionally, some of the content was completely out of date. Travelling in April 2017, I don’t really need or want to know about Christmas markets in 2016! (Update 4th July 2017): Mr. Jean tells me that the next software update is scheduled for Q4 2017 and will see a much-improved UI. He also revealed that content is updated three times a year, which may explain why outdated information on Christmas markets was shown). No movies were made freely available through the app. Instead, Eurowings opted to charge €3.90 for access to the “premium package” that includes movies. Again, the user interface was lacking with it being far from intuitive or obvious how to purchase said package. In the end, I figured out that you needed to play the trailer in order for an option to buy a voucher for the premium package to appear. Volume was extremely low on one of the movies I tested and I could not hear the dialogue above the engine noise. However, this was not a problem with other movie titles (I counted 31 to choose from in total). I didn’t encounter buffering at any stage and all the streams that I tried were of good quality. All movies were available in both English and German (including subtitles). Though I did not watch any TV series (there were seven in total), these were freely available and all had multiple episodes to choose from. For kids, another bundle was available at a cost of €1.90. This seemed to consist mainly of game content. Indeed, no game content was freely available unless you purchased this bundle. I should mention here that our little girl watched content that we'd made available offline on Netflix and the iPlayer Kids apps on her Amazon Fire tablet. I suspect that other parents did something similar and suspect this is a growing trend airlines and providers of W-IFE systems will have to contend with. Music/audio content was also available. However, it was necessary to register with Napster to access this content at a “promotional price” of €1 for three months. Existing Napster customers could presumably login in and explore the library available. The moving map, which is reportedly the most visited part of any IFE system, was rather basic. In fact, I hesitate to call it a moving map. It was more of a 2D flight tracker which, in addition to position, showed the date, ground speed, and altitude. Current time, time to destination or local time was not provided. Disappointingly, there was no functionality to zoom into street level and explore the terrain below in more detail – a feature that would represent the ideal opportunity to layer in destination-related content and offers. Opening Wings Bistro and Wings Shop, Eurowings’ branding for the in-flight menu and in-flight duty-free selection, respectively, caused the system to launch PDF menus. It was not possible to order food and drink items or other goods for sale through the system itself. An annoying quirk of the app that I noticed is that it doesn’t work well if you want to multi-task. As a test, I switched to another app and when I returned to Wings Entertain, I noticed that it had restarted and I therefore had to endure the same non-skippable video advertisement that I previously encountered. I also had problems when trying to access the airport guides, which caused the app to lock up on multiple occasions. Furthermore, I noticed that clicking the back button when watching a movie caused the app to minimise instead of returning me to the main menu. Strangely, there was no way to return to the home screen unless you forcibly closed the browser window that the movie plays in. Again, I can imagine this kind of thing easily confounding technophobes. I should also mention that it was not possible to watch purchased content after the flight and there was no way to retrieve the access code you are given when purchasing a premium package should you lose it. I tried to download my voucher for safe keeping as advised in the FAQs but was presented with a message telling me that the download failed. Even so, it was possible to resume playing a movie where I’d left off after exiting the app. On the plus side, the DRM technology used in Wings Entertain worked well and I was unable to screenshot a scene from a movie when I tried. I was also unable to listen to content without headphones so as not to disturb other passengers. The system doesn’t tell you that this is the case when you make payment though. Instead, this information is provided in the FAQs. Having been asked on many occasions to provide my thoughts on the supposed death of embedded in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, one thing that I have been keen to point out is that W-IFE is often installed on aircraft with no in-seat power even though the two go hand in hand. To put this into perspective, I boarded the flight with my battery level at 65%. After playing around with the system for the majority of the flight (which lasted one and a half hours), I disembarked with 27% battery. At this rate of discharge, anyone wishing to consume content via W-IFE on medium- to long-haul flights will seemingly need to board with their devices fully-charged, or have access to in-seat power. In an effort to establish take rate, I did take a walk around the cabin to see if I could spot anyone else using the system. Unfortunately, it seemed as though I was alone in my journey through Wings Entertain! I therefore completed the survey and upon submitting, was thanked for joining the Eurowings frequent flyer program – an apt way to end my experience given the numerous UI glitches I unfortunately encountered. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]