Uncovering Trends In Media Content Across TV And Digital
Inflight Motion Pictures
David Flexer of Inflight Motion Pictures once recounted to Life magazine that he was on a transcontinental flight in 1956 when he realised “air travel is the most advanced form of transportation and the most boring.” Flexer later developed the 16mm film system for commercial aircraft, a launchpad for a meteoric change in our industry. At the turn of the century the focus seemed mainly on quantity as airlines raced to offer more content than their competitors. In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has given us the opportunity to reconsider our industry and the role we play and readdress the decades old question – just how boring is it?
It was the turn of the century when Boeing launched Connexion, the first high speed internet connection inflight. In the two decades since, many airlines began to offer internet connectivity but often it feels like a slow wave from the first row of the aircraft to the last. In a 2019 Sky High Economics Report the industry was warned of an “immediate need” to innovate. In our region, they reminded us that this next decade will see “the first truly digitally native generation become the largest group of air passengers of over 450 million.” The report further explained that the digital disruption we have seen on the ground is now “driving expectations of the inflight experience and redefining attitudes to airline loyalty.” When we examine what exactly these expectations are, it is helpful to consider a 2019 Content Ratings Benchmarks report where Nielsen found that Live TV continues to be the largest contributor to time spent on media content on the ground. Further, a study commissioned by the BBC Global News that same year confirmed that 62 percent of passengers were more likely to choose an airline if it had Live TV with a third willing to pay up to 20 percent more for the privilege.
If we know the growing expectation of our customers and we have the technology, what is preventing airlines and content providers from the innovation that David Flexer demanded back in 1956? The answer is simple: cost.
Increasingly our client experience has been that airlines are fully aware of their passenger’s expectations. We’ve all delayed boarding a plane as long as possible in the hope of watching the last minutes of a game, catching the result of an election or witnessing breaking news. We’ve cancelled flights when our team made the final and we have relied on the kindness of pilots and cabin crew to keep us updated on the score. So, while the world stood still in 2020, we listened to the market and put the finishing touches on IIM+. This innovative and patented signalling server technology allows multicast streaming onboard without the need to install additional hardware or software. It is convenient, affordable and flexible. IIM+ will enable airlines to meet this “immediate need” to innovate, revolutionising Live TV inflight at an extraordinary bandwidth saving of 75 to 90 percent. With IIM+ Live TV has potentially become the most economically viable option to entertain passengers.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the industry but history will define it as an impetus for change. When the skies re-open, passengers will notice which airlines took the time to reinvent themselves, to rise above their competition and to entertain like never before – “boring” cannot be the new normal. While 2020 has taken so much from so many it is important to look forward. In 2021 Tokyo will finally host their long-awaited Olympics and Paralympics, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal may play their last Grand Slam and England may finally win the Euro. This year has also seen us tune into live news like never before, to monitor travel updates, check the market and tune in to watch world leaders speak. This momentum, these habits, will not stop when the skies reopen, passengers will not be content to miss anything, anymore. Our vision is for IIM+ to enable new carriers to launch with Live TV as their primary entertainment medium – less hardware, less fuel, less cost and less environmental impact. Existing carriers can meet this Live TV demand with savings, not costs. Trans-Tasman flights could focus on rugby, cricket and live news while their Northern Hemisphere counterparts tune in to football and tennis. Superbowl parties take to the skies. Programming with IIM+ is destination specific and more relevant than ever before. Generation Z passengers can enjoy their Live TV on their personal devices while the Millennials may continue to enjoy in seat convenience. Live TV was seen as expendable at the beginning of the shutdowns but now it should be seen as the solution to a healthy, zero-touch, dynamic and exciting inflight experience that could revolutionize an industry and satisfy consumer demand simultaneously.
The changes we have seen in 2020 will have repercussions for years to come – it is only with innovation and adaptation that we will survive and thrive. IIM+ provides a convenient, affordable and flexible Live TV solution for airlines. The game has changed and with IIM+ the new normal will be far from boring.
Deutsche Telekom Customers Offered Free Gx Aviation On Lufthansa Group Flights
Much has been written about the merits of airlines adopting a free-of-charge model for their passenger inflight broadband offerings in recent months, with an Inmarsat white paper suggesting such a move could lead to take-up rates of between 30-40%.
The number of airlines offering complimentary Wi-Fi on flights also seems to be on the rise. The latest example comes from Germany, where Deutsche Telekom has just announced that its residential customers will be offered free inflight broadband, powered by Inmarsat’s award-winning GX Aviation solution, on all domestic, short and medium haul flights operated by Lufthansa Group.
The offer was actually introduced towards the end of April 2020 to keep Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines passengers connected in the wake of COVID-19. It has now been extended until the end of 2021.
“According to a Bitkom survey, every other German would like to surf the Internet free-of-charge onboard an airplane,” says Hagen Rickmann, Board Member Business Customers at Deutsche Telekom. “We are now responding to this request and expanding our Wi-Fi offering on the plane. From now on, private customers can also surf free of charge on European flights of the Lufthansa Group.”
This latest move with Lufthansa Group shines a light on efforts by Inmarsat and its partner Deutsche Telekom to increase inflight connectivity take-up rates for airline customers. According to Asbjorn Christoffersen, Inmarsat Aviation’s Vice President of Retail Revenue Management, there are two fundamental barriers that need to be overcome to unlock the full potential of IFC: ease of access and a lower pricing.
One of the ways that Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom are helping airlines to overcome such barriers is enabling advanced roaming services, allowing subscribers of mobile network operators and Wi-Fi service providers to automatically access the inflight Wi-Fi service. The latest news with Lufthansa Group is a prime example.
“The simplicity of a plug-and play experience is the key reason why 40% of mobile subscribers in Europe actively use cellular roaming services when abroad. We now have the technology to fully emulate that cellular roaming experience on a flight. Merely turn on your smartphone and start using the inflight Wi-Fi services,” explains Christoffersen. “Starting with mobile app based roaming – using the WISPr technology – we’ll expect to rapidly transition to fully automated cellular style roaming using Passpoint technology.”
Christoffersen clarifies that passengers are billed via their regular mobile network subscription and that many roaming partners will in fact choose to bundle the inflight pricing into the subscriber’s regular monthly subscription fee.
As part of the campaign with Lufthansa Group, Deutsche Telekom customers with a Magenta Mobil M tariff or higher can book the ‘Inflight Europa Flat’ Wi-Fi free of charge. For business customers, the flat rate is now also available free of charge from the Business Mobil M rate onwards. The tariff option is simply booked before the journey starts. The offer also applies to business customers of Magyar Telekom, Hrvatski Telekom, Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic, who use the One App instead of Deutsche Telekom’s Connect App.
The offer of free GX Aviation inflight broadband will be communicated via onboard announcements. Passengers can either login onto the connectivity service manually (via the portal of the respective airline) or through Deutsche Telekom’s Connect App. GX Aviation is available as soon as cruising altitude is reached. The app then automatically displays the available Wi-Fi and asks whether a connection should be established.
The move is bound to be well received by passengers and enhance loyalty for the Lufthansa Group. “As airlines look towards recovery from the COVID-19 downturn and how they can draw passengers and gain an edge against competitors, they should not forget inflight Wi-Fi as a market differentiator – and importantly the power of ‘free’,” wrote Inmarsat Aviation Senior Vice President Niels Steenstrup in a recent blog for Aircraft Interiors International.
“In our daily lives, free internet access has for some time been an absolute expectation. More and more passengers are now expecting that same level of connectivity in the sky. This trend is intensified by the growing influence of digitally native consumers like Generation Z, which will become the largest group of passengers within the next decade,” he added.
Flightplan Broadcast Kickstarts Aviation’s Post-Covid Flightback
All industries have been dealt a series of severe blows by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Aviation has suffered more than most. That’s why at a time of stasis and disorientation, Inmarsat Aviation joined forces with APEX to develop FlightPlan, a unique one-day online broadcast that looked to connect the industry in lieu of the many cancelled aviation events.
Held at the end of April, more than 3,000 people watched FlightPlan live from almost 100 countries worldwide, with thousands more expected to catch-up on demand in the coming weeks. The average view time was 144 minutes, showing deep engagement, and the event also facilitated more than 100 meetings in the virtual networking area, making it a clear and resounding success.
Industry experts and analysts came from the likes of Airbus, Air Transport Action Group, Avianca, Collins Aerospace, Deutsche Telekom, European Space Agency (ESA), Honeywell, IATA, Japan Airlines, Panasonic Avionics and Rolls-Royce
Inmarsat Aviation Vice President Dominic Walters hosted the event and described the response as phenomenal. “Together, more than 50 leading voices shared a clear message,” he stated. “That while the aviation industry contends with a period of extreme uncertainty, these clouds will eventually clear. Now is the time to focus on accelerating our recovery and rebuilding an industry that is stronger, more agile and fit for the future.”
The feedback from viewers was universally positive too. “Thank you for inspiring us, and help us love again our jobs in this difficult quarantine times. Great team work,” wrote Gonzalo Monterrosa, flight dispatcher at Crossracer. “Great to see the industry stalwarts in one platform, sharing their thoughts for charting a turbulent free post COVID-19. Well done Team FlightPlan,” added Kuwait Airways’ Pradeep Gangadharan. “Thank you so much to everyone that worked on this broadcast,” concluded Saudi Arabian Airlines’ Sultan Asiri.
The event is now available to watch online and below are the highlights
The FlightPlan online broadcast event hosted by Inmarsat, in collaboration with APEX, saw over 3,000 people from across 100 countries tune in to watch over 50 industry professionals exchange views on the present and future of aviation.
The FlightPlan online broadcast event hosted by Inmarsat in collaboration with APEX covered a wide range of topics throughout the day, related to COVID-19 and beyond, but a highlight was “The Great Wi-Fi Debate,” which involved a discussion about the long-term future of in-flight connectivity.
During the session, CEO of Fast Future Rohit Talwar presented new findings from a research study his company is undertaking together with Future Travel Experience (FTE), “Future Air Transport Strategies and Technologies,” about what the passenger experience will look like by 2035. While the full study won’t be released until the end of the summer, Talwar said 88% of respondents predicted that airlines would be offering free in-flight Wi-Fi.
The feasibility of free IFC was then addressed by different participants throughout the segment. Nathan Clapton, VP Inflight Media at Inmarsat Aviation, said that passengers are happy to “pay” for their Wi-Fi by offering up their data, which is worth more than covering the cost of connectivity. He further argued that free Wi-Fi acts as an “engagement driver,” that through their portals, “airlines can provide all kinds of contextual products and services, refresh and increase ancillary revenues and make passengers more loyal over time.”
Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy, took a different stance. “The second you make in-flight Wi-Fi free; it goes from being a perk to an expectation. At the very least, have differential pricing for faster or slower Wi-Fi,” he said. Instead, Sutherland listed the different ways that airlines could use the offer of Wi-Fi, suggesting, “You could use it for yield management. If there’s a less popular flight at a less fashionable time of day, you could advertise free Wi-Fi to get people to shift from an overbooked flight to an under-booked flight without using a price incentive.”
Sutherland also said that airlines could offer a Wi-Fi plan not just for a number of hours, but for one or two years: “What you’ve created is like easyJet Plus or Amazon Prime, a kind of loyalty scheme.” Another idea was to bundle Wi-Fi in with checked baggage, or with other ancillary revenue streams, such as extra-legroom seats. “Not charging for it is OK, but giving it away for free is a different matter. Don’t do that,” he implored.
Another response from Fast Future and FTE’s research study showed that by 2035, passengers expect to see the option for mass-customization in the cabin, both in terms of their seating environment (67%) and their broader cabin experience (66%).
IFC undoubtedly comes into the mix here. Airlines have the task of catering to a host of different passengers, as evidenced by aviation analyst Alex Macheras outlining the needs of Generation Z and Alexis Hickox suggesting more needed to be done to accommodate millennial parents traveling with Generation Alpha children, perhaps in the form of multi-user, multi-device Wi-Fi packages for families. However, for David Fox, VP Inflight Services and Connectivity at Deutsche Telekom, the need for seamless access to IFC overrides the necessity for access to a range of different bundles and plans.
“If you make it seamless, you can’t give the customer a whole host of tariffs,” Fox said. He used the example of roaming data in Europe, explaining that in the past, people had a certain data/minutes bundle, but knew that when they crossed the border to another country, they would be charged excessive rates on everything. Fox said the result was that people simply switched off their roaming capability.
“You could advertise free Wi-Fi to get people to shift from an overbooked flight to an under-booked flight without using a price incentive.” – Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy
“We changed that over to a system where you could buy a fixed price pass that would give people access to a certain number of MB/GB,” he continued. “What happened was that customer behavior changed from fear about their bills to a complete overview … we drastically slashed prices, but because so many more people were using it, we were more than overcompensating for our revenues. This is something that can be transferred 1:1 over to the airline industry.”
In fact, Fox revealed that from May, European Deutsche Telekom customers will be able to access the FlyNet service offered across Lufthansa Group’s European routes free of charge as part of their subscription bundle. “This will drive take rates and really increase passenger satisfaction,” he concluded.
While FlightPlan highlighted a range of different opinions on how to go about best leveraging IFC, this is clear: FlightPlan’s “Great Wi-Fi Debate” continued to underline the industry-wide consensus that connectivity will remain a key aspect of airlines’ brand differentiation, passenger experience, loyalty and ancillary revenue strategies for years to come.
Honeywell Completes JetWave System Testing For China
Honeywell (NYSE: HON) completed ground testing and flight testing of the JetWave connectivity system in China on its world-famous Boeing 757. This is a major milestone for Honeywell that will greatly increase its support of China’s in-flight, high-speed satellite communication.
Based on proven performance and recognition in the market, JetWave is designed for the China’s Ka-band satellite network. It provides reliable and high-speed cabin connectivity. JetWave has speeds of up to 180 Mbps, so passengers can expect the same high-speed Wi-Fi experience at 40,000 feet as they do on the ground, fully meeting business and entertainment connection demands.
Chinese operators with JetWave can bring better flight experiences to their passengers through access to high-speed internet, further increasing their competitiveness in the global aviation market and increasing their profitability. On top of the passenger benefits, JetWave also brings greater connectivity to assist maintenance operators and flight operations better manage aircraft, reduce fuel costs, and help avoid aircraft delays.
Honeywell’s JetWave satellite communications terminals provide a seamless, in-ﬂight Ka-band service available worldwide. The hardware and network are optimized to work during flight, providing outstanding connectivity and enhancing the passenger experience.
In March 2019, Honeywell announced the appointment of Air Esurfing as the sole distributor of JetWave in China.
OneWeb successfully launches 34 more satellites into orbit
- OneWeb declares the launch and contact of its satellites successful today
- This launch continues path towards internet everywhere for everyone
- OneWeb is proud to launch from Kazakhstan, extending Baikonur Cosmodrome’s world-class legacy to the space industry
London, UK, 7 February 2020: OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, today announced the successful launch of 34 satellites, aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
Lift-off occurred on February 06th at 21:42 pm UTC. The OneWeb satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of several hours, with signal acquisition on all 34 confirmed within hours.
This launch is the second successful launch in one of the largest civilian satellite launch campaigns in history. It will help build OneWeb’s phase one constellation of 648 satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity, while addressing the world’s most pressing connectivity problems.
The communications company is on schedule to provide global coverage to customers in 2021, starting with the first commercial services in the Arctic this year. This follows OneWeb both securing global priority spectrum rights and successfully launching its first batch of satellites in 2019.
OneWeb’s network will provide a unique combination of high data throughput, low latency, true global coverage and a range of user terminals for multiple markets including maritime, aviation, government and enterprise.
Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said: “The successful manufacture, delivery and launch of this batch of 34 satellites is the latest proof point of the OneWeb plan. Importantly, today’s mission also brings us closer to our next step, realizing our ultimate vision of providing access to high speed, reliable internet to everyone, everywhere.
“We are seeing considerable interest from prospective customers and partners. Later this year, we will provide service in the arctic region and 2021 will see OneWeb achieve global coverage, making the digital divide a thing of the past. I’m very proud of our team and partners who continue to collaborate to make our ambitious scale a reality, and also those in Kazakhstan for supporting our vision.”
OneWeb sets launch date for high-speed broadband network
This event marks the start of a regular launch campaign taking place during 2020 that will rapidly grow OneWeb’s first-phase constellation of 648 satellites and represents one of the largest civilian satellite launch campaigns in history. Each satellite will be an integral part of the OneWeb high-speed global satellite broadband network, and together they will activate OneWeb’s first customer demos by the end of 2020 to provide full commercial global services, with aviation, as well as sectors such as maritime, government and enterprise following in 2021.
In this first launch of 2020, 34 satellites will be aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle. Launch service provider, Arianespace will perform the launch, which will place the satellites into a near polar orbit at an initial altitude of 450km (280 miles) from where they will rise to their final orbit of 1,200km (746 miles) and form part of OneWeb’s global communications network. All the satellites are manufactured by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space.
OneWeb has chosen the theme Space for Everyone for the first event in its 2020 launch programme, to demonstrate how space is becoming more relevant to everyday life as an important source of connectivity.
Gilat Achieves Fastest Ever Modem Speeds of 1.2 Gbps Total Throughput over Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO Satellite
Petah Tikva, Israel, November 21, 2019 — Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ, TASE: GILT), a worldwide leader in satellite networking technology, solutions and services, announced today that Gilat achieved the fastest ever modem speeds of 1.2 Gbps total throughput over Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. This industry milestone demonstrates the potential of high throughput Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) satellite constellations. Gilat’s technology opens opportunities for new telecommunications products and a wider range of customer experiences to markets demanding very high throughputs such as cruise ships, large airplanes, trunking and high-capacity government applications. Additionally, the combination of high throughput provided by Gilat’s innovative technology and the low latency from NGSO creates opportunity for delay-sensitive applications such as 5G.
“Telesat is delivering on the promise of exceptional throughput, high data rate, low latency applications and this demonstration highlights the benefits of our LEO constellation architecture,” said Michel Forest, Director of Systems Engineering for the LEO Program at Telesat. “Telesat truly values our longstanding collaboration with Gilat and we are pleased to have achieved these remarkable levels of performance using Gilat’s innovative technology.”
“The strong partnership between Telesat and Gilat marks another outstanding achievement for delivery of next generation satellite services required for high-throughput applications,” said Amir Yafe, Head of Global Accounts at Gilat. “Demonstrating the industry’s fastest modem marks a significant breakthrough and a major milestone in realizing Gilat’s vision of enabling plentiful, quality and affordable broadband, by bringing innovative technologies that maximize the promise of NGSO satellite constellations.”
Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ: GILT, TASE: GILT) is a leading global provider of satellite-based broadband communications. With 30 years of experience, we design and manufacture cutting-edge ground segment equipment, and provide comprehensive solutions and end-to-end services, powered by our innovative technology. Delivering high value competitive solutions, our portfolio comprises of a cloud based VSAT network platform, high-speed modems, high performance on-the-move antennas and high efficiency, high power Solid State Amplifiers (SSPA) and Block Upconverters (BUC).
Gilat’s comprehensive solutions support multiple applications with a full portfolio of products to address key applications including broadband access, cellular backhaul, enterprise, in-flight connectivity, maritime, trains, defense and public safety, all while meeting the most stringent service level requirements. Gilat controlling shareholders are the FIMI Private Equity Funds. For more information, please visit: www.gilat.com
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