IMDC: Make in-flight connectivity suppliers accountable!

I just got off the phone with IMDC chief executive Wale Adepoju, who was kind enough to talk to me about what airlines need to consider when looking at bringing in-flight connectivity on board their aircraft.

The entire interview with an eye-opener, so be sure to check out the January issue of Airline Business for my next in-flight connectivity feature, and more from Adepoju (the feature will also run on the Flightglobal IFEC news channel).

However, the in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) expert divulged the four key points that IMDC is imparting to its airline clients behind closed doors. Before we go there, however, let’s lay the groundwork with a key quote.

Says Adepoju:

“Ku-band is very different now than what it was five or six years ago. It has improved in terms of performance.

“There are now viable options [including Ku, SwiftBroadband (SBB) and ATG]. I would have no qualms about installing any of the different options now.

“They all have a market so we are way past the ‘which technology will win’ stage and we’re at the point where, if a particular technology has a sufficient market to be able to deliver scale, I think they all have benefits and they all have use.

“There will be more airlines that will announce Ku. It has a value, it has a use. SBB is a natural selection for certain airlines.”

And now for those four steps:

1) Connectivity is an essential part of the future of aviation. Connected aircraft are essential going forward. It will affect the bottom line sometime in the future.

2) You have to have a clear plan as to how you are going to approach in-flight connectivity.

3) Each airline has to have its own unique solutions’ based on its geography, demographics, size, type of applications, etc.

4) And the other thing, which we’ve never gone public about, is – Don’t be afraid to ask suppliers to do more than their standard offering! Quite often these companies have created solutions anticipating the airline, but if the airline needs something slightly different, often they can adapt. That is the value of having aerospace-based connectivity companies. If you had to rely on communications companies, you’d have to buy what it said on the tin. I think it’s important for the industry and everyone to get involved with that to MAKE THEM ALL ACCOUNTABLE.

So how might airlines get educated about their options, and what would make sense for their own unique business models? Adepoju suggests the industry holds more educational gatherings like the connectivity workshop held earlier this year in Everett, Washington (pic below).

I have to agree with him there. The WAEA connectivity workshop was an excellent “Connectivity 101″ course for airlines and an excellent refresher for IFEC experts. It also provided a platform for some pretty frank conversation, including about Airbus’ connectivity strategy, which is currently centered on SBB. Plus, I had a chance to wear my yellow coat.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Everett 049.jpg

, , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to IMDC: Make in-flight connectivity suppliers accountable!

  1. Abdul November 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Adepoju is correct about making connectivity providers accountable but this should be extended beyond applications to actual functionality.
    Airlines need to demand bandwidth and performance guarantees from the providers.

  2. Mary Kirby November 24, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    I should have mentioned it specifically in the post, but Adepoju feels strongly that in-flight connectivity suppliers need to be frank with airlines about whether the cost of data transfer is going to be less than classic services.

    So, as you say, airlines need bandwidth and performance guarantees, but they also need to see the cost of equipping with higher-bandwidth solutions come down.