In-Flight Internet: Indians to be among top users of in-flight internet: K Guru Gowrappan

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NEW DELHI: From being late starters of in-flight connectivity (IFC), Indians will emerge as one of the top consumers of internet on aircraft, riding on the boom in satellite communications and mirroring the trend of heavy data consumption, that is currently seen on the ground, said Viasat, world’s top provider of IFC.
K Guru Gowrappan, global president of the American satellite and land communications giant, said airline companies in India are gearing up for a massive surge in IFC, especially as the numbers of aircraft are expected to go up from the current fleet size of 650, with 1,100 new orders made to Boeing and Airbus.
Viasat offers IFC services across some of the world’s leading airlines, including, Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, Qantas, and the International Airlines Group (that runs British Airways, Ireland’s Air Lingus, and Spain’s Iberia and Vueling). It had acquired Britain’s satellite company Inmarsat in a $7.3 billion deal in 2021
“Airlines in India are expected to start deploying our IFC services by the end of 2024. We will be making announcements around our Indian airline customers during the course of next year,” Gowrappan told TOI.
He said that IFC adoption in North America is around 75%, 49% in the Middle East, and 35% across Europe. “… the quality of on-board entertainment and connectivity experience is an increasingly important factor in passengers’ airline purchasing decisions. The adoption is being driven by a basic desire of remaining connected while in the air. Passengers today are looking for more freedom of choice in how they entertain themselves when on a flight.”
So, will customers get the in-flight internet services free of cost? Gowrappan said various models are being followed across the world, though a lot of complimentary internet services are being provided as airlines and technology companies, such as, Viasat stitch up content partnerships and advertising models to offset costs. “Viasat is working closely with airline companies in India to determine the optimum service models for passengers. We will adapt based on each airline’s goals and their operating models.”
He said there will be a big expansion in the size of aircraft fleet in APAC region, which will fuel in-flight internet demand. “Research from the Valour Consultancy shows that Asia Pacific, including India, is set to become the largest IFC market by 2032, with 5,300 installed aircraft, compared to 4,700 in North America and 3,300 across Europe.”
It is understood that all the top airlines in the country, including Air India, Vistara, and Indigo, are in advanced discussions with technology and content companies to offer internet services on their fleet from next year.



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