Aeronautical Communications

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April 07, 2011

GSM and Inflight Internet Services Finds Favor with Public

By Mini Swamy, TMCnet Contributor

OnAir, a member of the GSM Association and an Inmarsat (News - Alert) Distribution Partner for SwiftBroadband services, is the first provider to offer on-board connectivity services to enable passengers to stay connected.

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The combined GSM and inflight Internet services based on the latest high-bandwidth satellite technology from Inmarsat has had a successful first year of operation. OnAir concluded that SwiftBroadband adequately met passengers' needs.

First launched by Oman Air in March 2010, OnAir's combined GSM and inflight Internet services have found favor with Saudi Arabian Airlines and Egypt Air It is expected to be launched with Singapore Airlines, Aeroflot and Libyan Airlines later this year.

In a press release, Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir, commented on how people communicated during flights exactly in the same way they did while in a train or at the airport and said that the company survey indicated that 95 percent used the GSM service options rather than logging into the hotspot.

Dawkins also added that more than half of the passengers that bought inflight Internet access used their tablet or smartphone rather than a laptop, indicating that in general people preferred the convenience of using their own familiar handheld devices.

Continuing in the same vein, Dawkins noted that with the dependency on mobile phones increasing, it was but natural that people continues using them during flights. The OnAir GSM services were so straightforward that it just required users to switch on their phones to use the services. Things were made easier as no credit card details needed to be entered. Mobile operators billed the passengers in the regular bill.

A survey found that social media sites were the most popular with almost 40 percent of passengers accessing Facebook. About 10 percent accessed Google (News - Alert).

In a related news release, TMCnet reported that New Zealand passengers using OnAir inflight mobile phone services onboard domestic A320 aircraft will be able to keep in touch as they can use their mobile phones, for calls, text messaging, email and mobile data, with the service operated via satellite.





Mini Swamy is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell