Sep. 30, 2011 at 8:26 AM ET
Travelers are increasingly expected to take advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity in the coming years as more airlines begin offering the service. In fact, a new report from market research firm In-Stat News found that in-flight Wi-Fi revenue is expected to grow from about $225 million in 2011 to over $1.5 billion in 2015.
"While airlines initially viewed in-flight broadband as a competitive differentiator, it is now simply viewed in the U.S. market as a competitive requirement," said Amy Cravens, In-Stat senior analyst. “The future of in-flight Wi-Fi will be less about convincing airlines of the merit and more about leveraging the network to provide a broader breadth of services."
Similar to the hot spot market, Wi-Fi access is likely to become a commodity in the in-flight market, with the revenue opportunity resting on the services and features, not the connection, Cravens added.
The report also noted that in-flight connectivity is becoming more popular in international markets. In-Stat believes it will rapidly transition to a competitive requirement in these markets as it did in the United States.
Virgin America recently announced that it will be expanding its in-flight Internet to its seat-back displays so users can get online using the built-in entertainment system. Meanwhile, Delta said earlier this month that it will be the first airline to expand its Wi-Fi service to regional jets.
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