Airlines investing big in in-flight WiFi

In-plane and on-ground investments will approach $500 million in a few years, but will passengers pay for connectivity?

A report from In-Stat says that by 2013, total in-flight broadband WiFi equipment investment will approach half a billion dollars. The researcher says that deployments have moved past the trial stage and will soon reach criticalm mass. By the end of this year about 2,000 planes will be outfitted with in-flight WiFi capability.

In-Stat research vice president Frank Dickson says despite the vast and growing deployment of broadband-connectivity technology in airplanes and on the ground, "In-flight broadband service rollouts by airlines are not without issues. With current paid take rates for in-flight WiFi service below 2 percent, providers have a lot of work to do to entice passengers to use the service. ... The market will be tested as it tries to get more passengers to use the service." The research firm expects service revenues of $95 million this year.

A number of airlines have reported that they are offering or testing in-flight broadband or live TV, including most major U.S.-based airlines.

See story from The Economist: No one pays for in-flight WiFi

More in Wireless/5G