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In-flight Wi-Fi to grow over 600 percent by 2015

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."

The report also found that smartphones and tablets are the devices predominantly used on flights to connect to the Internet.

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.

Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN.

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