APEX2015: Panasonic claims 51% of connectivity market

Panasonic Avionics' Neil James.
Panasonic Avionics’ Neil James.

Panasonic Avionics says it now has a 51% market share [by customers] of the global inflight connectivity market.

Speaking at the APEX Expo, Neil James, Panasonic EVP Corporate Sales and Product Management, said that since AIX in Hamburg it has been awarded contracts for a further 394 aircraft. He added that since April it has completed 560 installations, with 2,659 further aircraft committed.

He also said that Panasonic had been selected to provide its eX0 AVOD, eX1, eX3 and GCS solutions on aircraft for three unspecified Middle Eastern airlines.

James added that its single-panel Ku-band antenna (SPA) is now in full production with early deliveries being made.

An early prototype of Panasonic's single panel antenna being developed at its Lake Forest facility.
An early prototype of Panasonic’s single panel antenna at its Lake Forest facility in 2014.

The SPA is a new design that uses a simplified (bonded) construction technique that does away with the hundreds of machine screws used in its earlier design. The antenna is assembled and bonded in a single simplified process using a heated autoclave at Panasonic’s Lake Forest facility, cutting the manufacturing time dramatically.

James said that Panasonic continues to be amazed by the level of interest in live TV sports in the air. He announced that Panasonic has signed a new five-year extension to its existing TV agreement with IMD, which will see it continue to provide the technology for Sport 24 – the world’s only live 24/7 sports channel for the airline industry.

Sport 24 is broadcast via satellite to more than 250 specially-equipped planes on 10 airlines, showing live coverage of major sporting events such as the NBA, Formula 1, the NFL, Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, Grand Slam tennis and golf’s Majors.

“We’ll also cover the Olympics in Rio Janeiro in 2016, which will be massive,” James said.

He added that a total of 1.4m passengers on 200 aircraft watched the FIFA World Cup in Brazil when it was played in 2014.

Panasonic also announced a new strategic collaboration with Rovi to use the latter’s metadata to manage the programming guide for its global inflight television service, eXTV.

It said as entertainment catalogues continue to grow, Rovi metadata is the foundation that enables consumers to easily find and watch their favourite content.

Panasonic said it also has plans to increase its Ku-band capacity over the next few years, citing HTS Ku-band capability after new satellite launches in Q2 and Q4 2016.

Panasonic's current and planned Ku-band coverage - click for larger image.
Panasonic’s current and planned Ku-band coverage – click for larger image.

After launch, Intelsat 29e will serve the Americas and the North Atlantic, while Intelsat 33e will provide coverage of Africa, Europe and Asia.

Panasonic’s new “XTS” Ku-band capability will also feature on an unspecified satellite in 2018.

XTS is Panasonic’s in-house name for a new Ku-band technology that will provide even faster speeds than HTS. It plans to announce the satellite provider for XTS in the near future.

The company also says that its Ku-band service is more than a match for the upcoming Inmarsat Ka-band GX system.

“We think GX’s 40MHz spot beams are not quite up to providing the total bandwidth required for live TV,” said Dave Bruner, Panasonic’s Vice President of Global Communications Service.

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