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Digital Transformation of In-Flight Entertainment Services

In-flight entertainment has been available on long-haul flights for several decades and increasingly, in an age where permanent Internet connectivity is becoming the norm, in-flight Wi-Fi is now becoming a standard service offering for airlines.

Digital transformation, developing communications technology, the promise of ancillary revenues for airlines and increasing demands from passengers to stay connected at all times are driving the deployment of new services across both large airlines and smaller low-cost carriers.

In-Flight Internet Access Market Development

According to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research, commercial aircraft adopting in-flight Wi-Fi services will reach 14,419 globally by 2022 -- that's up from an estimated 5,243 in 2017.

This will mean that over half of the global fleet of commercial passenger airplanes will offer these services in 2022, compared with just under a quarter this year. This increase will be driven by the impact of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, despite increased security concerns from several governments, primarily the U.S. market, which has given rise to the ban of some electronic devices.

Juniper analysts have examined the top four disruptors of in-flight entertainment and connectivity.


The new research found that in-flight wireless streaming is increasingly being offered as an in-flight entertainment (IFE) option, based on a lower installation cost and weight savings, when compared with the traditional passenger airplane seat-back entertainment systems.

Indeed, with many vendors offering combined wireless streaming and Wi-Fi connectivity services, Juniper predicted that wireless streaming will replace seat-back in-flight entertainment on most short haul flights, with seat-back IFE being increasingly reserved for longer flights with premium carriers.

With BYOD, and thus consumer adoption encouraged by wireless services, monthly in-flight entertainment revenues are forecast to rise by 30 percent on average per aircraft over the forecast period.

Outlook for New Global Applications

Furthermore, as a result of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 disaster report findings, flight tracking is increasingly coming to the fore of operational offerings from vendors, in line with regulatory pressures to adopt global tracking systems.

The Juniper Research analysis highlighted additional benefits to tracking, such as improved punctuality leading to increased revenues. Juniper anticipates that these systems will therefore become standard equipment in the near future.

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