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Approval of More Device Usage In-Flight Could Fuel Airline Wi-Fi, Entertainment on Mobile Devices Aeronautical Communications Editorial Archive

Aeronautical Communications

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December 07, 2012

Approval of More Device Usage In-Flight Could Fuel Airline Wi-Fi, Entertainment on Mobile Devices

By David Gitonga, TMCnet Contributing Writer

The recent push by the FCC (News - Alert) to have FAA approve the use of mobile devices during takeoff and landing has resurfaced some of the hindrances to in-flight communication.

“With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology,” said Laura J.Brown, FAA’s deputy assistant administrator for public affairs, “and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cell phones, on aircraft.”

Even with a recent optimistic IMS Report expecting wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) to reach a global install-base of nearly 9,000 aircrafts by 2012, which translates to a third of the global fleet, a lot of challenges will need to be met. Despite these hurdles, the major U.S-based carriers continue to outfit their fleets with connectivity services making in-flight Wi-Fi and cellular communication increasingly common.

Airlines like the Boeing (News - Alert) 747, 748 and the 777, which are currently in production, are expected to roll out with Wi-Fi connectivity and in-flight use of cell phones by the end of 2013. Wireless media streaming is expected to be a standard for all new Boeing planes in 2014. On its website, JetBlue also recently announced a partnership with ViaSat to launch in-flight Wi-Fi which is expected to deliver “more bandwidth than any other product in the commercial aviation today,” the airline said.

Airlines like Delta, United, Virgin America and American Airlines rely on Gogo for in-flight Internet services.

This recent FAA review comes at a time when mobile devices are increasingly interwoven into daily life and at a time when tremendous innovation in mobility is taking place. Once the expanded usage privileges are approved, we can expect to see more in-flight usage and more industry players coming in the in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment field.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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