Will Oman offer high-speed Internet to counter Gulf Air’s plan?

Peter Hill presentation slide.JPG

It’s no longer a question of “if” airlines should bring connectivity on board their aircraft, but rather a question of “how”. So said Oman Air chief executive Peter Hill at the 18th Annual Conference of “The Future of Air Transport” held on 29-30 November in London.

Peter Hill presentation slide 2.JPGOman currently offers OnAir-supported in-flight mobile connectivity and Internet. The carrier holds the honorable distinction of being the first in the world to offer both services, although the latter comes at a rather hefty cost of $29.95 per 26MB at data rates of up to 432 kb/s (see all price points to the right).

During his speech, Hill acknowledged that the connectivity service received an “initial surge” due to the novelty, followed by a fall in use, a story first reported here. But he says the carrier has seen “steady, sustained growth” from month two.

Hill says mobile phone use is greater than broadband (I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that Oman if offering a metered service) and that SMS messaging is used more than voice calls. Oman is also seeing “more business demand than leisure demand” and “surges of activity at end of holiday periods”.

Furthermore, says the Oman Air CEO, “Over the next year or two, many other carriers will offer connectivity to their customers and the speed of technological development will see enormous possibilities open up.”

Here are some of Oman’s expectations:

Peter Hill presentation slide 3.JPG

The timing of Hill’s comments is interesting, because, as he was discussing how carriers will offer higher-speed solutions in the coming years, Lufthansa was already launching in-flight high-speed Internet on its overseas flights, setting the standard – again – for high-speed Internet on long-haul routes.


But, with Hill expecting “enormous possibilities” in the coming years, I wonder if Oman doesn’t have its own longer-term plans for bringing high-speed Internet to passengers.

The carrier may need to think seriously about doing just that, since Bahrain-based Gulf Air has become a customer of Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite, which includes high-speed Internet.

Gulf Air joins a growing list of international customers for in-flight high-speed Internet, among them Turkish, Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Dragonair, and the aforementioned Lufthansa.

In any case, Hill’s presentation, titled “In-flight entertainment: Fees or Free”, is instructive on a number of levels. Indeed, one thing everyone seems to agree on (right now) is that passengers should pay for in-flight Internet on long-haul flights. Lufthansa is charging 19.95 euros for 24hr of its service, for instance.

You can access Hill’s entire presentation here. Peter Hill presentation London.pdf

(All slides courtesy of Hill’s presentation.)

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3 Responses to Will Oman offer high-speed Internet to counter Gulf Air’s plan?

  1. RobH December 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Mary, whatever happened to the Emirates flight crew arrested for sending intimate text messages? Will passengers who use this service have to be concerned about being arrested for, say, an American who emails a picture of herself in front of the Burj Khalifa without being properly veiled or without her husband being properly seen next to her in the photograph?

  2. Aramis December 7, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    Perhaps you haven’t been to Dubai recently but veils are not compulsory whether you’re American or otherwise!

  3. Mushroom December 8, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    Why this incessant moaning about prices? It’s economics. If a thing costs more to produce, it will be be more expensive.

    If someone comes along with an offering covering that market for cheaper then we have reason to believe the prices will fall through competition.

    Is there someone willing to offer Omanair a similar proposition for cheaper? No.

    These businesses, Onair, Oman, Aircell, Panasonic, Inmarsat, Emirates aren’t charities the last time I looked.

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