APEX 2013: AeroMobile sees demand for connectivity soar

Connectivity provider AeroMobile says it has seen data usage over its network double over the past year.

Kevin Rogers (pictured), AeroMobile CEO, told Inflight that it is continuing to role out its services to more airlines, which are seeing substantial returns on their investments.

"Not only is connectivity improving their customer experience and brand, but the airline's ongoing revenue share pays for the equipment and generates a profit as well," Rogers said.

He added that on some flights the ancillary revenue from connectivity exceeds that from duty-free sales.

So what are people using inflight connectivity for? Surprisingly, most of the growth has come from telephone usage – calls, SMS and GSM data. Sometimes seen as the Cinderella of the connectivity portfolio, Rogers says that its ease of use goes a long way to making it more accessible for people.

"Passengers only have to pull out their smartphones and start using them," he said. "Billing is handled through their roaming agreement, so they don't have to reach for the credit card, which can be a barrier to purchase at times."

Rogers said that on aircraft fitted with both Wi-Fi and GSM, the number of phone users per flight usually exceeded Wi-Fi. He added that texting is the dominant service, admitting that making a phone call from a noisy cabin can often be problematic.

"Checking voicemail, sending and receiving SMS messages or short emails can be more discrete," he said.

AeroMobile's recent consumer survey showed that 70 per cent of UK travellers would use their phones inflight if they had the option. Seven airlines, including Thai, Singapore and Garuda Indonesia, are or will be launching AeroMobile connectivity within the next few months. This will bring the total to 13. Despite now being part owned by Panasonic, the company remains platform agnostic with many Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (L-band) customers as well as Panasonic Ku.

Steve Nichols, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com
Anaheim, CA, USA

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