Fast wifi, fleet wide and flying in about a year. The original announcement between Thales Inflyt and Spirit Airlines laid out an aggressive plan to fit the low cost carrier's fleet with inflight connectivity service. More than a year later, however, only a handful of planes have the system installed and it is not active for passengers on any of them. What happened and when will it get better??
How many different ways can one company get beat up in the inflight entertainment and connectivity market? Astronics faces headwinds in its Aerospace market on three fronts. The 737 MAX grounding has costs on both new production and retrofit efforts, while the loss of Intelsat 29E grounded a connectivity program indefinitely. Add in tariffs related to China suppliers that the company is paying and the numbers are going to be rough in that segment for the foreseeable future.
As inflight connectivity products mature and consumers become familiar with the offerings the expectation from suppliers is that they will pay more for the services more often. Just how long that maturation process takes remains an interesting question, however. The latest report from Inmarsat adds more data to consider on this front, but few solid answers.
It was one of the faster installations and activations for a new inflight connectivity customer. In under a year Indonesia's Citilink went from agreement to contract to installation to activation of its onboard WiFi solution, powered by Inmarsat's GX Aviation and managed by Mahata Aero Teknologi (MAT). Now that deal – and the associated installations on Garuda and Sriwijaya – appears dead.
When the government gets involved in any commercial transaction there are bound to be concerns for all parties involved. With two different UK agencies looking in to the proposed deal to take satellite operator Inmarsat private questions are sure to arise about the future of that deal. Fortunately, it appears that concessions and guarantees are in play rather than an outright collapse of the transaction.
The market for antennae with a proven track record of successful connections to LEO satellite constellations continues to grow. This week's news brings another Ka-band supplier into the fold.
Eutelsat and Inmarsat are both claiming victories this afternoon in France as the Conseil d’Etat, the country's high court, issued a ruling regarding the issuance of licenses for the European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight wifi connectivity solution. It is the latest in the ongoing legal saga over the "complimentary ground component" of the network.
The inflight connectivity community has suffered from years of disappointment as promise after promise from manufacturers failed to yield electronically steered phased array (ESAs) antennae for commercial aircraft. Phasor and others appeared poised to break that streak, with the news at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg more optimistic than not. An update from one inflight connectivity provider this week calls some of that optimism into question, however.
Massive expansion costs are set to give way to recurring revenue growth. That is the message Viasat delivered as it issued is most recent earnings numbers this week. Even as the company pushes forward with the build-out of its new ViaSat-3 constellation with dramatically more bandwidth and geographic coverage, it hopes to convert the existing capacity into new deals and new subscribers, with a significant push into new inflight connectivity markets, among other areas.
The on again, off again progress on an upgraded terrestrial network for inflight connectivity provider Gogo appear to be back in motion. In the company's most recent earnings call CEO Oakleigh Thorne indicated that the company is "particularly excited by some of the plans we’re developing for our next-gen network," though he stopped short of delivering too much in the way of additional details. Hardware supplier ZTE is out, thanks to questions about the long-term viability of growing the network with a Chinese vendor in the mix. But the program is very much alive, despite skepticism sown in Thorne's early days at the helm.