Building a capture portal for access to a Wi-Fi network is relatively easy. Building a good one is very, very difficult. And for the in-flight connectivity market a strong capture portal is critical. It is the gateway to a compelling user experience. And it is also where the revenue comes from. Whether it is facilitating payment for a session or delivering advertising content or in-flight shopping, the portal is the basis for airlines and providers extracting revenue from the system.
For airlines with multiple connectivity service providers the portal design is even more complex. For the best passenger experience they must implement a common user interface, regardless of the underlying systems. And that needs to happen without getting in the way of the connectivity service being provided.
Cathay Pacific is the latest multi-provider airline to recognize that maintaining multiple portals is less than ideal. The company announced a deal with Deutsche Telekom this week to develop and deploy an updated portal solution fleet-wide.
Cathay Pacific General Manager Customer Experience & Design Vivian Lo sees the shift as a critical next step for the airline as it streamlines operations and looks to improve the passenger experience. “In today’s highly connected world, providing a truly seamless and consistent Wi-Fi experience for our passengers is important to ensuring we are always delivering on that commitment. This new partnership with Deutsche Telekom provides us with a robust platform that offers the versatility and consistency necessary to meet the needs of both our airlines and our customers.”
That robust platform provides benefits on multiple fronts:
- Passengers get a smooth and consistent interaction with the airline in-flight connectivity services
- New features can be launched across all aircraft, regardless of the underlying connectivity platform
- Operational services, such as crew reporting apps, can be integrated through a single code base
David Fox, Vice President Inflight & Connectivity Services at Deutsche Telekom sees similar upside for the carrier moving forward with his company’s offering, “Our dedicated inflight connectivity solution is based on our feature-rich ISP core platform. It is designed to meet Cathay’s current as well as its future connectivity needs.”
Of course, with the transition there are also parties that stand to lose. The selection of Telekom to provide the portal means that Gogo, provider of connectivity on the 777 and A330 aircraft, will see its role diminished at Cathay Pacific. It is not a massive blow, but Gogo has historically offered one of the better portal experiences available to airlines. And it is a value-added service that the company will no longer be delivering for one customer.
A shift to the airline-directed model for pricing the end-user sessions could also affect connectivity revenue adversely; that has been the case with similar prior changes.
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