AeroMobile’s inflight mobile phone services via Panasonic Avionics’ eXPhone installations are now available on 500 aircraft.
Speaking to “Get Connected” at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Kevin Rogers, AeroMobile’s CEO, said it is currently completing around 100-150 new installations a year.
“Also, every new aircraft we activate is now fully compatible with 3G services,” Rogers said.
“AeroMobile’s traffic continues to grow and we’re still demonstrating that the revenue stream from our services is good for airlines.”
Rogers said that while some people are happy to pay €20 for a longer Wi-Fi session, other passengers are only interested in doing a little bit of social media activity.
As such it can make economic sense for them to just use their mobile’s data connection.
“Prices are reducing as satellite data costs come down, but inflight mobile use is still priced as a premium service,” Rogers said. “Nevertheless, we are seeing significant new interest from airlines.”
There is a lot of regional interest in AeroMobile’s services due to the way data bundles can be priced in some countries. For example, Singtel offers an “all you can eat” mobile data package in south-east Asia for just 29 Singapore Dollars a week.
“That makes it very cost-effective for travellers,” Rogers said. “Any package that gets us away from pricing per megabyte is a good thing. Passengers don’t want to be worried about how much data they are using.”
With “an all you can eat” data package passengers can just get on with using their devices without the threat of “bill shock” at a later date.
“The more people know that they can use their mobile phones on an aircraft the better. Joe Public still finds it confusing, having been told for years to make sure their phones are switched off, but that is changing,” he said.
The current ban on the use of laptops and tablets in the cabin on certain routes means that smartphones (which are allowed) are coming into their own as personal data devices and computers.
Rogers said AeroMobile’s new partnership with Ericsson, announced in November, also means it is well placed to look at new services in the future, such as 4G and even 5G.
Under the deal Ericsson will provide Panasonic Avionics with a “5G-ready core” that can be optimised for use across a wide and growing range of sectors,
“This will also help us move into machine-to-machine (M2M) and internet of things (IOT) applications in collaboration with Ericsson,” Rogers concluded.