Not so long ago, satellite operators treated inflight connectivity as a niche market — a good way to sell off capacity not already soaked up by more lucrative television broadcast, government and maritime customers.
A decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to allow the use of Thales FlytLive aeronautical terminals opens the market to a fourth competitive reseller in what is currently the largest regional inflight connectivity market.
U.S. regulators have thwarted a proposed joint venture between satellite connectivity provider Global Eagle Entertainment of Marina del Rey, California, and Beijing Shareco Technologies of China.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is considering ways to add multiple antennas to planes in order to let different satellite inflight connectivity providers serve the same aircraft simultaneously.
Panasonic Avionics, one of the largest providers of satellite-enabled broadband to aircraft, says the long-term viability of inflight connectivity as a moneymaker remains an open question.