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Surge in W-IFE as Portable Boxes Gain Traction

It seems that not a day goes by without Google delivering an alert to my inbox informing me about yet another report on the wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) market. Indeed, there are probably more market research companies covering the emergence of W-IFE than there are W-IFE vendors – and there are many! Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal of information out there on the rate of adoption of different types of content streaming systems (think fixed installation versus portable), how smaller airframes like turboprops are now becoming equipped in greater numbers, and of course, which companies are leading the way when it comes to market share.

I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to pen an update on how the market has progressed since this veritable delight published in December 2017. I’ll pick up where I left off in the second section of said blog and talk in a little more depth about the portable W-IFE market and how it has grown, quite quickly, throughout 2018. Portable W-IFE, for those not familiar with the term, refers to those all-in-one server-cum-WAP units that do not require an STC as they’re stored either in overhead bins or in catering trays. Notable proponents of these boxes include AirFi, Lufthansa Systems and Bluebox Aviation Systems.

At the back end of 2017, portable W-IFE could be found on 225 aircraft – a slight increase on the 198 equipped aircraft one year prior. By looking at this minimal year-on-year rise, one could be forgiven for concluding that portable boxes would not, despite massive promise, make much of a dent in the overall W-IFE installed base. However, fast-forward to June 30th, 2018 and the prospects for portable W-IFE suddenly look a lot more promising with our stats showing the number of aircraft with portable W-IFE had shot up to 383 – a 70% increase in just six months.

Of course, we need to be mindful of the fact that the inherent portability of these boxes means that they can be installed much faster than can other categories of IFE. For this reason, airlines also move boxes on and off aircraft throughout the year and the summer travel season naturally results in a marked uptick in the use of portable W-IFE. Thomas Cook Airlines, for example, operates its AirFi boxes during the summer months and keeps them stored during winter. As such, keeping track of those aircraft operating with portable W-IFE is fast becoming a painstaking task for the diligent researchers amongst us. Nevertheless, through constant dialogue with key vendors and the airline community, we’ve been able to build and maintain an extremely granular database of those carriers that have adopted, or plan to adopt, W-IFE solutions of various kinds.

As of Q2 2018, the installed base of W-IFE stood at 6,627. That’s an increase of 344 aircraft quarter-on-quarter and the biggest three-month jump we’ve ever recorded. Over the same timeframe, the number of aircraft with portable W-IFE grew by 151, which is equivalent to 44% of all net new installations during the quarter. Some of the larger deployments that have taken place in recent months include Aegean Airlines and Aurora Airlines, which, together activated AirFi boxes on more than 50 aircraft; Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, which has gone live with Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect Portable product; and Air Nostrum, which commenced a fleetwide rollout of Immfly’s plug-in portable box, SkyCube.

And there’s plenty more to come. At the end of Q2 2018, the known portable W-IFE backlog (inclusive of instances where aircraft will be upgraded to “full” fixed installation W-IFE) was 364. In truth, this backlog is most probably even higher. Our figures are an aggregation of deals that have been publicly announced, or deals that we know about but cannot yet disclose. Clearly, competition in an increasingly-crowded portable W-IFE space means secrecy abounds and vendors are rightfully keeping their cards close to their chests. Even so, we already know that Caribbean Airlines and Vistara are about to begin flying with Bluebox Wow, flynas has signed on to use Inflight Dublin’s Everhub product, and Binter Canarias has joined the long list of airlines working with AirFi.

A new class of product that could result in an even greater number of aircraft with IFE is hybrid/portable W-IFE. In 2017, several vendors announced portable W-IFE boxes that can be connected to the aircraft power supply. This type of solution is likely to prove popular among operators not keen on the logistics of portable W-IFE that sees boxes removed from the aircraft at the end of the day for recharging and content refreshes. An added benefit is that there is no need for battery exchanges, which some airlines may consider a safety concern. Such solutions combine the benefits of both a portable and an installed IFE solution and could prove popular in the low-cost sector and on short- and medium-haul routes.

In addition to Air Nostrum, which, as mentioned, is deploying Immfly’s SkyCube offering, new Lufthansa Systems’ customer, Air Europa, will, in Q3 2018, roll out a version of BoardConnect Portable that sees the box stored in the overhead storage compartments of aircraft and further secured with Lufthansa Technik’s Power & Safe solution, a locked safe that is connected to a power supply to prevent unwanted access. Viasat and Tigerair Australia are about to launch something similar, while Sun Country Airlines has become the launch customer for AirFi’s aircraft-powered boxes.

Interestingly, the portable W-IFE surge has shown that there is a role for unconnected W-IFE (i.e. W-IFE with no off-board Internet connectivity) to play, despite protestations to the contrary. I, and others in the industry, have pointed out for some time that W-IFE is heavily tied to the in-flight connectivity (IFC) market. Indeed, at the end of 2017, about 80% of W-IFE-equipped aircraft also offered full off-board connectivity. However, as portable W-IFE systems tend to be comprised of one, sometimes two, self-contained units and with no satellite antennas in sight, there is a distinct lack of Internet connectivity on aircraft with such solutions. That being said, several companies are working on integrating low-bandwidth connectivity into their offerings. Lufthansa Systems, for example, plans to pair a battery-powered Iridium modem with BoardConnect Portable boxes to enable in-flight messaging and live e-commerce via the soon-to-be-complete Iridium NEXT constellation.

The emergence of portable W-IFE has also opened up an entirely new segment of the market to IFE. Its common to assume that narrow-bodies and regional jets remain the main area of focus for vendors in this space. And when we think about single-aisle aircraft, we tend to imagine Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s and the CRJs and E-Jets from Bombardier and Embraer, respectively. But turboprops comprise a not-insignificant proportion of the global fleet and despite tending to fly much shorter routes, are ripe for lightweight, inexpensive and easy-to-install solutions that can, potentially, generate additional ancillary revenues. Just last month, SpiceJet became the latest Lufthansa Systems customer to go live. The BoardConnect Portable solution (branded “SpicEngage”) is now up and running on 21 Bombardier Dash 8s. Likewise, Bluebox’s Wow solution recently started active service on five Dash 8s operated by Air Inuit.

At the end of Q2 2018, a total of 26 W-IFE vendors had installed their solutions on more than one aircraft. The new HAVELSAN/Turkish Technic joint-venture became the latest to join the party when it finally activated its W-IFE system on 44 Turkish Airlines’ aircraft in June 2018. Though not a portable solution, its entrance just goes to show how fragmented the market has become. And there’s no sign of any let-up. Global Eagle, already counted as one of the 26, expects to announce the first customers for its new portable product, AirConnect Go, by the end of the year. Amphenol Phitek, lest we forget, has signed a strategic agreement with Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer, ATR, and plans to launch its new CabinStream portable product on Gabon-based carrier, Afrijet, in the next few months. And might we expect a new name to come from nowhere and have a crack? GoMedia, which continues to gain traction in the rail and coach markets and has just announced its first US launch on Greyhound Buses, could conceivably decide to enter the fray at any moment.

As it stands, the big IFC service providers continue to lead the way when it comes to overall share of the installed base. Gogo, Panasonic Avionics and the aforementioned Global Eagle, all occupy lofty rankings mainly because they have been able to easily add their respective solutions to existing IFC deployments that utilise the same in-cabin architecture. But the portable space is dominated by three different vendors. Together, AirFi, Lufthansa Systems and Bluebox Aviation Systems account for almost 90% of all aircraft with portable W-IFE.

Valour Consultancy is the only independent market intelligence provider tracking the W-IFE market on a quarterly basis. With installed base and quarterly activity broken out by product type, service provider, airline, fitment type, aircraft type, aircraft size and geographic region, it is a must-have resource for keeping track of developments in this increasingly dynamic market. Additionally, the product draws from our highly-complementary quarterly IFC tracker database to show which airlines have installed W-IFE alongside on-board Internet. If you’d like further information or would like us to demo either of these trackers, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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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="4862|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/2018/09/streaming-1024x683-1.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]It seems that not a day goes by without Google delivering an alert to my inbox informing me about yet another report on the wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) market. Indeed, there are probably more market research companies covering the emergence of W-IFE than there are W-IFE vendors – and there are many! Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal of information out there on the rate of adoption of different types of content streaming systems (think fixed installation versus portable), how smaller airframes like turboprops are now becoming equipped in greater numbers, and of course, which companies are leading the way when it comes to market share. I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to pen an update on how the market has progressed since this veritable delight published in December 2017. I’ll pick up where I left off in the second section of said blog and talk in a little more depth about the portable W-IFE market and how it has grown, quite quickly, throughout 2018. Portable W-IFE, for those not familiar with the term, refers to those all-in-one server-cum-WAP units that do not require an STC as they’re stored either in overhead bins or in catering trays. Notable proponents of these boxes include AirFi, Lufthansa Systems and Bluebox Aviation Systems. At the back end of 2017, portable W-IFE could be found on 225 aircraft – a slight increase on the 198 equipped aircraft one year prior. By looking at this minimal year-on-year rise, one could be forgiven for concluding that portable boxes would not, despite massive promise, make much of a dent in the overall W-IFE installed base. However, fast-forward to June 30th, 2018 and the prospects for portable W-IFE suddenly look a lot more promising with our stats showing the number of aircraft with portable W-IFE had shot up to 383 – a 70% increase in just six months. Of course, we need to be mindful of the fact that the inherent portability of these boxes means that they can be installed much faster than can other categories of IFE. For this reason, airlines also move boxes on and off aircraft throughout the year and the summer travel season naturally results in a marked uptick in the use of portable W-IFE. Thomas Cook Airlines, for example, operates its AirFi boxes during the summer months and keeps them stored during winter. As such, keeping track of those aircraft operating with portable W-IFE is fast becoming a painstaking task for the diligent researchers amongst us. Nevertheless, through constant dialogue with key vendors and the airline community, we’ve been able to build and maintain an extremely granular database of those carriers that have adopted, or plan to adopt, W-IFE solutions of various kinds. As of Q2 2018, the installed base of W-IFE stood at 6,627. That’s an increase of 344 aircraft quarter-on-quarter and the biggest three-month jump we’ve ever recorded. Over the same timeframe, the number of aircraft with portable W-IFE grew by 151, which is equivalent to 44% of all net new installations during the quarter. Some of the larger deployments that have taken place in recent months include Aegean Airlines and Aurora Airlines, which, together activated AirFi boxes on more than 50 aircraft; Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, which has gone live with Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect Portable product; and Air Nostrum, which commenced a fleetwide rollout of Immfly’s plug-in portable box, SkyCube. And there’s plenty more to come. At the end of Q2 2018, the known portable W-IFE backlog (inclusive of instances where aircraft will be upgraded to “full” fixed installation W-IFE) was 364. In truth, this backlog is most probably even higher. Our figures are an aggregation of deals that have been publicly announced, or deals that we know about but cannot yet disclose. Clearly, competition in an increasingly-crowded portable W-IFE space means secrecy abounds and vendors are rightfully keeping their cards close to their chests. Even so, we already know that Caribbean Airlines and Vistara are about to begin flying with Bluebox Wow, flynas has signed on to use Inflight Dublin’s Everhub product, and Binter Canarias has joined the long list of airlines working with AirFi. A new class of product that could result in an even greater number of aircraft with IFE is hybrid/portable W-IFE. In 2017, several vendors announced portable W-IFE boxes that can be connected to the aircraft power supply. This type of solution is likely to prove popular among operators not keen on the logistics of portable W-IFE that sees boxes removed from the aircraft at the end of the day for recharging and content refreshes. An added benefit is that there is no need for battery exchanges, which some airlines may consider a safety concern. Such solutions combine the benefits of both a portable and an installed IFE solution and could prove popular in the low-cost sector and on short- and medium-haul routes. In addition to Air Nostrum, which, as mentioned, is deploying Immfly’s SkyCube offering, new Lufthansa Systems’ customer, Air Europa, will, in Q3 2018, roll out a version of BoardConnect Portable that sees the box stored in the overhead storage compartments of aircraft and further secured with Lufthansa Technik’s Power & Safe solution, a locked safe that is connected to a power supply to prevent unwanted access. Viasat and Tigerair Australia are about to launch something similar, while Sun Country Airlines has become the launch customer for AirFi's aircraft-powered boxes. Interestingly, the portable W-IFE surge has shown that there is a role for unconnected W-IFE (i.e. W-IFE with no off-board Internet connectivity) to play, despite protestations to the contrary. I, and others in the industry, have pointed out for some time that W-IFE is heavily tied to the in-flight connectivity (IFC) market. Indeed, at the end of 2017, about 80% of W-IFE-equipped aircraft also offered full off-board connectivity. However, as portable W-IFE systems tend to be comprised of one, sometimes two, self-contained units and with no satellite antennas in sight, there is a distinct lack of Internet connectivity on aircraft with such solutions. That being said, several companies are working on integrating low-bandwidth connectivity into their offerings. Lufthansa Systems, for example, plans to pair a battery-powered Iridium modem with BoardConnect Portable boxes to enable in-flight messaging and live e-commerce via the soon-to-be-complete Iridium NEXT constellation. The emergence of portable W-IFE has also opened up an entirely new segment of the market to IFE. Its common to assume that narrow-bodies and regional jets remain the main area of focus for vendors in this space. And when we think about single-aisle aircraft, we tend to imagine Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s and the CRJs and E-Jets from Bombardier and Embraer, respectively. But turboprops comprise a not-insignificant proportion of the global fleet and despite tending to fly much shorter routes, are ripe for lightweight, inexpensive and easy-to-install solutions that can, potentially, generate additional ancillary revenues. Just last month, SpiceJet became the latest Lufthansa Systems customer to go live. The BoardConnect Portable solution (branded “SpicEngage”) is now up and running on 21 Bombardier Dash 8s. Likewise, Bluebox’s Wow solution recently started active service on five Dash 8s operated by Air Inuit. At the end of Q2 2018, a total of 26 W-IFE vendors had installed their solutions on more than one aircraft. The new HAVELSAN/Turkish Technic joint-venture became the latest to join the party when it finally activated its W-IFE system on 44 Turkish Airlines’ aircraft in June 2018. Though not a portable solution, its entrance just goes to show how fragmented the market has become. And there’s no sign of any let-up. Global Eagle, already counted as one of the 26, expects to announce the first customers for its new portable product, AirConnect Go, by the end of the year. Amphenol Phitek, lest we forget, has signed a strategic agreement with Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer, ATR, and plans to launch its new CabinStream portable product on Gabon-based carrier, Afrijet, in the next few months. And might we expect a new name to come from nowhere and have a crack? GoMedia, which continues to gain traction in the rail and coach markets and has just announced its first US launch on Greyhound Buses, could conceivably decide to enter the fray at any moment. As it stands, the big IFC service providers continue to lead the way when it comes to overall share of the installed base. Gogo, Panasonic Avionics and the aforementioned Global Eagle, all occupy lofty rankings mainly because they have been able to easily add their respective solutions to existing IFC deployments that utilise the same in-cabin architecture. But the portable space is dominated by three different vendors. Together, AirFi, Lufthansa Systems and Bluebox Aviation Systems account for almost 90% of all aircraft with portable W-IFE. Valour Consultancy is the only independent market intelligence provider tracking the W-IFE market on a quarterly basis. With installed base and quarterly activity broken out by product type, service provider, airline, fitment type, aircraft type, aircraft size and geographic region, it is a must-have resource for keeping track of developments in this increasingly dynamic market. Additionally, the product draws from our highly-complementary quarterly IFC tracker database to show which airlines have installed W-IFE alongside on-board Internet. If you’d like further information or would like us to demo either of these trackers, don’t hesitate to let us know.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

The Future of Maritime Connectivity – A Sneak Preview

In October 2018, Valour Consultancy will publish a long-awaited update to its maritime connectivity report. For those that simply cannot wait to get a hold of this information, we thought we’d share a sneak peek of our just-realised preliminary data…

Our statistics show that the global maritime connectivity market will continue to grow strongly in 2018, with annual service revenues projected to reach $1.6 billion by the end of the year. This represents a 5.4 per cent increase from 2017.

The VSAT portion of the market is anticipated to drive future growth, with MSS service revenues declining over the coming years. By the end of 2017, VSAT terminals accounted for only nine per cent of the installed base of vessels with some type of connectivity system installed. This will increase to 10 per cent by the end of 2018 and 18 per cent by 2027.

Revenues from VSAT terminal services represented 68 per cent of the total market (equivalent to some $1 billion) in 2017. Average monthly revenues per terminal for C-, Ku-, and Ka-band services differ considerably, however, and were recorded at $5,750, $3,078, and $2,757, respectively, in 2017. In comparison, average monthly service revenues for L-band terminals were just $169.

The passenger segment is a particularly lucrative market as many cruise and ferry line operators are seeking out greater satellite bandwidth capacities to match an ever-increasing demand from passengers to use Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets. Not only do people want to eat their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; they wish to take pictures of them and post them on social media pages for all the world to see (or sea, if you pardon the pun).

In other maritime verticals, such as merchant, the desire to improve crew welfare is a major driver for the adoption of VSAT technologies for voice, video and email communications. Spending months away from friends and family without any communications can be sapping on morale and will likely lead to staff reconsidering their career or employment choices.

Another major driver within the shipping industry is the digitalisation of vessel operations and increasing operational efficiencies. One key cost saver is anticipating maintenance or repair work before a piece of machinery on the vessel breaks down out at sea, which is much costlier to fix than a vessel docked at a port.

Furthermore, people’s expectations are changing to the degree that not having the ability to access emails or messages is intolerable no matter where they are in the world, on land, at sea or in the air. This is a very notable trend in the leisure market. Yacht or smaller leisure boat owners want to continue with their normal life and business routines whilst sailing around the world. Access to connectivity is essential for them to achieve this.

The Future of Maritime Connectivity” report projects maritime connectivity service revenues will reach almost $2.1 billion by the end of 2027. The leisure and passenger segments are predicted to be the fastest growing areas. Indeed, ARPU for some of the biggest cruise vessels using VSAT systems is expected to easily surpass $30,000 per month.

Speedcast, the Australian service provider, has been very successful in the passenger market thanks in part to the 2017 acquisition of Harris Caprock and August 2018 purchase of Globecomm.

Within the next ten years, global VSAT terminal deployments will treble to more than 72,000 units. The Ka-band market is projected to record the biggest increase, expanding ten-fold from a small base of around 3,000 terminals at the end of 2017, to greater than 30,000 by 2027. In fact, Inmarsat recently revealed that it expects to carry out the 5,000th ship installation of its Fleet Xpress solution by the end of this month, which gives an idea of just how quickly this particular technology is being adopted.

With the prospects for VSAT in maritime incredibly rosy, it can be easy to overlook the MSS market. As such, the report also delves into the low-speed and no voice MSS segment (GMDSS and asset tracking) of the maritime communications market and provides forecasts for the broadband and voice portion (Fleet Broadband and OpenPort). Although VSAT is steadily cannibalising these markets across different maritime verticals, annual L-band service revenues are projected to decline at a slower rate than some might expect. Demand in the fishing, merchant and leisure sectors will continue to support this limited bandwidth technology.

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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="4867|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/2018/09/yacht-3480913_1280-min-1024x682-1.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]In October 2018, Valour Consultancy will publish a long-awaited update to its maritime connectivity report. For those that simply cannot wait to get a hold of this information, we thought we’d share a sneak peek of our just-realised preliminary data… Our statistics show that the global maritime connectivity market will continue to grow strongly in 2018, with annual service revenues projected to reach $1.6 billion by the end of the year. This represents a 5.4 per cent increase from 2017. The VSAT portion of the market is anticipated to drive future growth, with MSS service revenues declining over the coming years. By the end of 2017, VSAT terminals accounted for only nine per cent of the installed base of vessels with some type of connectivity system installed. This will increase to 10 per cent by the end of 2018 and 18 per cent by 2027. Revenues from VSAT terminal services represented 68 per cent of the total market (equivalent to some $1 billion) in 2017. Average monthly revenues per terminal for C-, Ku-, and Ka-band services differ considerably, however, and were recorded at $5,750, $3,078, and $2,757, respectively, in 2017. In comparison, average monthly service revenues for L-band terminals were just $169. The passenger segment is a particularly lucrative market as many cruise and ferry line operators are seeking out greater satellite bandwidth capacities to match an ever-increasing demand from passengers to use Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets. Not only do people want to eat their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; they wish to take pictures of them and post them on social media pages for all the world to see (or sea, if you pardon the pun). In other maritime verticals, such as merchant, the desire to improve crew welfare is a major driver for the adoption of VSAT technologies for voice, video and email communications. Spending months away from friends and family without any communications can be sapping on morale and will likely lead to staff reconsidering their career or employment choices. Another major driver within the shipping industry is the digitalisation of vessel operations and increasing operational efficiencies. One key cost saver is anticipating maintenance or repair work before a piece of machinery on the vessel breaks down out at sea, which is much costlier to fix than a vessel docked at a port. Furthermore, people’s expectations are changing to the degree that not having the ability to access emails or messages is intolerable no matter where they are in the world, on land, at sea or in the air. This is a very notable trend in the leisure market. Yacht or smaller leisure boat owners want to continue with their normal life and business routines whilst sailing around the world. Access to connectivity is essential for them to achieve this. “The Future of Maritime Connectivity” report projects maritime connectivity service revenues will reach almost $2.1 billion by the end of 2027. The leisure and passenger segments are predicted to be the fastest growing areas. Indeed, ARPU for some of the biggest cruise vessels using VSAT systems is expected to easily surpass $30,000 per month. Speedcast, the Australian service provider, has been very successful in the passenger market thanks in part to the 2017 acquisition of Harris Caprock and August 2018 purchase of Globecomm. Within the next ten years, global VSAT terminal deployments will treble to more than 72,000 units. The Ka-band market is projected to record the biggest increase, expanding ten-fold from a small base of around 3,000 terminals at the end of 2017, to greater than 30,000 by 2027. In fact, Inmarsat recently revealed that it expects to carry out the 5,000th ship installation of its Fleet Xpress solution by the end of this month, which gives an idea of just how quickly this particular technology is being adopted. With the prospects for VSAT in maritime incredibly rosy, it can be easy to overlook the MSS market. As such, the report also delves into the low-speed and no voice MSS segment (GMDSS and asset tracking) of the maritime communications market and provides forecasts for the broadband and voice portion (Fleet Broadband and OpenPort). Although VSAT is steadily cannibalising these markets across different maritime verticals, annual L-band service revenues are projected to decline at a slower rate than some might expect. Demand in the fishing, merchant and leisure sectors will continue to support this limited bandwidth technology.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

What’s Going on in the World of Wireless In-Flight Entertainment?

Last month, Valour Consultancy published its long-awaited report “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment – 2017”, which covers the prospects for four types of in-flight entertainment (IFE) product: embedded IFE, wireless IFE (W-IFE), overhead IFE and portable units. In this blog, we zero in on the W-IFE market and share some insight into its present state, likely future development and how the competitive landscape is shaping up.

By the end of 2017, the installed base of W-IFE will stand at just over 6,000 aircraft. Drilling down into this top-level number reveals some interesting trends:

  • About 80% of W-IFE-equipped aircraft also offer full off-board connectivity.
  • North America still dominates the W-IFE landscape, but penetration elsewhere is growing – particularly in Western Europe, and Central and South America.
  • At the end of 2017, single-aisle aircraft will account for almost 90% of the installed base.
  • W-IFE line-fitments are a rare commodity – just 60 aircraft had systems installed at the factory in 2017.
  • Portable W-IFE continues to confound the doubters and the number of companies offering this kind of solution keeps on growing.

Internet-enabled W-IFE

In the early days of W-IFE, most installations were on aircraft already equipped with in-flight connectivity (IFC). Global Eagle and Gogo have the largest share of the current W-IFE installed base mainly because they have been able to easily add their respective solutions to existing IFC deployments that utilise the same in-cabin architecture. Combining IFC and W-IFE is almost a no-brainer for airlines as it results in little disruption and has the potential to generate additional ancillary revenues, while at the same time, reducing the strain on sometimes overburdened networks.

In 2015, however, we started to see the emergence of vendors eager to attract those operators not yet convinced by the economics of IFC offering solutions with no connectivity element. However, it has become evident that unconnected W-IFE has not established itself to the extent many were expecting. W-IFE grows mostly as an accessory to IFC and will continue to do so, especially as technology improves and the benefits of an integrated IFEC approach (greater personalisation, tailored content, operational efficiencies etc.) become more obvious.

Some market participants are positioning themselves as universal service providers capable of handling multiple platforms, connectivity links and applications throughout the cockpit and cabin. SITAONAIR and Rockwell Collins have been most vocal about their abilities in this regard; both eager to capitalise on the need for nose-to-tail connectivity. As this theme gathers momentum, W-IFE and IFC will increasingly be procured alongside one another and in addition to other products such as flight tracking and ACARS messaging. We, therefore, expect the number of aircraft with Internet-enabled W-IFE to surpass 13,000 by 2026 – up from approximately 4,500 in 2016.

Portable W-IFE Vendors

That’s not to say there’s no role for unconnected W-IFE to play. There absolutely is, and proponents of portable W-IFE are arguably best-placed to take advantage of this.

These solutions are attractive for a number of reasons:

  • Low up-front costs.
  • No STCs, thus minimising aircraft downtime and installation costs.
  • Low weight/small footprint.
  • Older units can be swapped for newer variants as technology evolves.
  • A low-risk way to trial W-IFE.

Consequently, the market for portable W-IFE has quickly become very crowded. AirFi, the company that pioneered the concept of portable W-IFE back in January 2015, has now been joined by the following vendors:

  • Lufthansa Systems
  • LSK Sky Chefs (Media inMotion)
  • Bluebox Aviation Systems
  • Inflight Dublin
  • Amphenol Phitek
  • Flow IFE
  • Vision Systems
  • Interactive Mobility (Flymingo)
  • ViaSat
  • Immfly

Others stand ready to enter the fray. In March 2017, Intertrust Technologies acquired Kiora Media and with it, a content distribution platform that can be used for IFE. Likewise, Czech-based Passengera has developed an infotainment platform for the bus, rail, vehicle and aviation markets. SkyFlix and Paradigm Tech, meanwhile, have opted to concentrate on business aviation thus far, but could, conceivably, look to address the commercial aviation market in future with their SkyFlix 2 and AdonisOne systems, respectively.

Hybrid Portable W-IFE

Faced with increased competition, incumbent vendors have sought to protect their position and over the last few months, several have unveiled portable W-IFE boxes that can be connected to the aircraft power supply. This type of solution is likely to prove popular among operators not keen on the logistical side of portable W-IFE that involves units being removed from the aircraft at the end of the day for recharging and content refreshment.

New Lufthansa Systems’ customer, Air Europa, is deploying a version of BoardConnect Portable that will see boxes stored in the overhead storage compartments of aircraft and further secured with Lufthansa Technik’s Power & Safe solution, a locked safe which is connected to a power supply to prevent unwanted access. Immfly and Air Nostrum have also launched a powered solution whereby boxes can be charged and powered on board the aircraft, while AirFi has announced that it is offering something similar. We speculate that the same is true of ViaSat and Tigerair Australia, although precise details are not currently available.

Such solutions combine the benefits of both a portable and an installed IFE solution and could prove popular in the low-cost sector and on short- and medium-haul routes in particular.

Future of W-IFE

Service provider backlog indicates that airlines under contract represent at least three years’ worth of W-IFE installations to come. Furthermore, some big airlines have recently committed to W-IFE.

Air France’s new low-cost subsidiary, Joon, is fitting Display Interactive’s UGO technology on its fleet and the French company along with Chinese partner, Donica, are close to revealing the name of another major client. Immfly is celebrating the recent launch of its “Air Time” service as part of a pilot on five easyJet aircraft, Panasonic Avionics’ eXW streaming system is being deployed on Hawaiian Airlines’ new A321neos and as already mentioned, Lufthansa Systems has bagged Air Europa.

Bluebox Aviation Systems, AirFi and Inflight Dublin continue to pick up new customers for their portable propositions, too. Bluebox has won the business of Solaseed Air and Air Inuit in the last few months and expects to reveal the names of additional customers imminently. AirFi has added Samoa Airways to a customer list that has grown rapidly in just three years and now consists of more than 30 airlines. Africa, which is almost entirely untapped as far as W-IFE goes, appears to be a major focus for Inflight Dublin. The Irish content service provider has signed up Tunisair and Kenya Airways as customers for the portable variant of its Everhub offer.

All things told, there is certainly every reason to believe our forecast of 15,000 W-IFE equipped aircraft by 2026 will be fulfilled. Much less certain is whether there will still be 30 plus vendors in the market by this point in time. The likes of Storebox Inflight, Ocleen TV, BAE Systems and PaxLife have all entered and exited the W-IFE market in a relatively short space of time and it would be foolish to assume that others will not follow suit.

Wireless In-Flight Entertainment Market Forecast

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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="4956|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/2017/12/Cellphone-Airplane-Mode-PHONEMODE0316-1024x640-1.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 published its long-awaited report “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment – 2017”, which covers the prospects for four types of in-flight entertainment (IFE) product: embedded IFE, wireless IFE (W-IFE), overhead IFE and portable units. In this blog, we zero in on the W-IFE market and share some insight into its present state, likely future development and how the competitive landscape is shaping up. By the end of 2017, the installed base of W-IFE will stand at just over 6,000 aircraft. Drilling down into this top-level number reveals some interesting trends:
  • About 80% of W-IFE-equipped aircraft also offer full off-board connectivity.
  • North America still dominates the W-IFE landscape, but penetration elsewhere is growing – particularly in Western Europe, and Central and South America.
  • At the end of 2017, single-aisle aircraft will account for almost 90% of the installed base.
  • W-IFE line-fitments are a rare commodity – just 60 aircraft had systems installed at the factory in 2017.
  • Portable W-IFE continues to confound the doubters and the number of companies offering this kind of solution keeps on growing.
Internet-enabled W-IFE In the early days of W-IFE, most installations were on aircraft already equipped with in-flight connectivity (IFC). Global Eagle and Gogo have the largest share of the current W-IFE installed base mainly because they have been able to easily add their respective solutions to existing IFC deployments that utilise the same in-cabin architecture. Combining IFC and W-IFE is almost a no-brainer for airlines as it results in little disruption and has the potential to generate additional ancillary revenues, while at the same time, reducing the strain on sometimes overburdened networks. In 2015, however, we started to see the emergence of vendors eager to attract those operators not yet convinced by the economics of IFC offering solutions with no connectivity element. However, it has become evident that unconnected W-IFE has not established itself to the extent many were expecting. W-IFE grows mostly as an accessory to IFC and will continue to do so, especially as technology improves and the benefits of an integrated IFEC approach (greater personalisation, tailored content, operational efficiencies etc.) become more obvious. Some market participants are positioning themselves as universal service providers capable of handling multiple platforms, connectivity links and applications throughout the cockpit and cabin. SITAONAIR and Rockwell Collins have been most vocal about their abilities in this regard; both eager to capitalise on the need for nose-to-tail connectivity. As this theme gathers momentum, W-IFE and IFC will increasingly be procured alongside one another and in addition to other products such as flight tracking and ACARS messaging. We, therefore, expect the number of aircraft with Internet-enabled W-IFE to surpass 13,000 by 2026 – up from approximately 4,500 in 2016. Portable W-IFE Vendors That’s not to say there’s no role for unconnected W-IFE to play. There absolutely is, and proponents of portable W-IFE are arguably best-placed to take advantage of this. These solutions are attractive for a number of reasons:
  • Low up-front costs.
  • No STCs, thus minimising aircraft downtime and installation costs.
  • Low weight/small footprint.
  • Older units can be swapped for newer variants as technology evolves.
  • A low-risk way to trial W-IFE.
Consequently, the market for portable W-IFE has quickly become very crowded. AirFi, the company that pioneered the concept of portable W-IFE back in January 2015, has now been joined by the following vendors:
  • Lufthansa Systems
  • LSK Sky Chefs (Media inMotion)
  • Bluebox Aviation Systems
  • Inflight Dublin
  • Amphenol Phitek
  • Flow IFE
  • Vision Systems
  • Interactive Mobility (Flymingo)
  • ViaSat
  • Immfly
Others stand ready to enter the fray. In March 2017, Intertrust Technologies acquired Kiora Media and with it, a content distribution platform that can be used for IFE. Likewise, Czech-based Passengera has developed an infotainment platform for the bus, rail, vehicle and aviation markets. SkyFlix and Paradigm Tech, meanwhile, have opted to concentrate on business aviation thus far, but could, conceivably, look to address the commercial aviation market in future with their SkyFlix 2 and AdonisOne systems, respectively. Hybrid Portable W-IFE Faced with increased competition, incumbent vendors have sought to protect their position and over the last few months, several have unveiled portable W-IFE boxes that can be connected to the aircraft power supply. This type of solution is likely to prove popular among operators not keen on the logistical side of portable W-IFE that involves units being removed from the aircraft at the end of the day for recharging and content refreshment. New Lufthansa Systems’ customer, Air Europa, is deploying a version of BoardConnect Portable that will see boxes stored in the overhead storage compartments of aircraft and further secured with Lufthansa Technik’s Power & Safe solution, a locked safe which is connected to a power supply to prevent unwanted access. Immfly and Air Nostrum have also launched a powered solution whereby boxes can be charged and powered on board the aircraft, while AirFi has announced that it is offering something similar. We speculate that the same is true of ViaSat and Tigerair Australia, although precise details are not currently available. Such solutions combine the benefits of both a portable and an installed IFE solution and could prove popular in the low-cost sector and on short- and medium-haul routes in particular. Future of W-IFE Service provider backlog indicates that airlines under contract represent at least three years’ worth of W-IFE installations to come. Furthermore, some big airlines have recently committed to W-IFE. Air France’s new low-cost subsidiary, Joon, is fitting Display Interactive’s UGO technology on its fleet and the French company along with Chinese partner, Donica, are close to revealing the name of another major client. Immfly is celebrating the recent launch of its “Air Time” service as part of a pilot on five easyJet aircraft, Panasonic Avionics’ eXW streaming system is being deployed on Hawaiian Airlines’ new A321neos and as already mentioned, Lufthansa Systems has bagged Air Europa. Bluebox Aviation Systems, AirFi and Inflight Dublin continue to pick up new customers for their portable propositions, too. Bluebox has won the business of Solaseed Air and Air Inuit in the last few months and expects to reveal the names of additional customers imminently. AirFi has added Samoa Airways to a customer list that has grown rapidly in just three years and now consists of more than 30 airlines. Africa, which is almost entirely untapped as far as W-IFE goes, appears to be a major focus for Inflight Dublin. The Irish content service provider has signed up Tunisair and Kenya Airways as customers for the portable variant of its Everhub offer. All things told, there is certainly every reason to believe our forecast of 15,000 W-IFE equipped aircraft by 2026 will be fulfilled. Much less certain is whether there will still be 30 plus vendors in the market by this point in time. The likes of Storebox Inflight, Ocleen TV, BAE Systems and PaxLife have all entered and exited the W-IFE market in a relatively short space of time and it would be foolish to assume that others will not follow suit. Wireless In-Flight Entertainment Market Forecast [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]