Embedded in-flight entertainment is not dead yet

Do you envisage a day when every passenger on board an aircraft will be able to access wireless in-flight entertainment? A day when you and your fellow travelers won’t need in-seat monitors to watch a wide variety of early release movies because they are being streamed to your fully powered tablets instead? Yeah, me too. But there are still technological hurdles to overcome before everybody can play.

Thales and more recently Gogo admitted that it is not yet feasible to simultaneously provide a planeload of passengers with a seamless, flawless streaming video experience, but they believe that the limitations of wireless IFE can ultimately be overcome.

That’s clearly good enough for some low-frills carriers, including AirAsia X, which has teamed with Tune Box to bring a pay-for-service wireless IFE solution to passengers (the carrier will leverage its electronic flight bag (EFB) technology for the service). Tune Box has not specified how many passengers can be supported at one time, but says the service is “scalable” and the technology they’ve got “gets around” bandwidth issues and “should be sufficient”. 

Meanwhile, AirAsia X, and frankly any medium- or long-haul carrier looking to offer wireless IFE (and/or in-flight connectivity), needs to give serious consideration to installing next gen in-seat power systems throughout their cabins for passengers to juice up their devices. Some in-seat power systems flying on aircraft today simply can’t handle heavy usage, and that’s a problem is you’re a carrier bent on offering wireless IFE on a 14 hour flight.

Here are just some of the reasons why embedded IFE is not dead yet…

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3 Responses to Embedded in-flight entertainment is not dead yet

  1. Paulo M July 19, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    I was going to add that device battery technology would always be a stumbling block for total wireless IFE systems, irrespective of platform manufacturer. It’s going to be in-seat power systems + wireless IFEC for some time.

  2. Mary Kirby July 19, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Once providers iron out the kinks (and lock down all the appropriate agreements with the studios!), I’m sure the wireless IFE solution will be quite attractive. But the in-seat power has got to be there for these long-haul flights. Not all passengers with iPads and other tablets carry fully-charged kit on board, especially if they’ve been using their iPads in advance of the flight (without power at the airport). The message for all players is that power is essential, both at the airport and in the air.

  3. Gerry S July 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I don’t think seat back systems are dead. I dare say that the future is seatback seat-centric systems with online and semi-online & online content, and wireless connectivity. That’ll leverage on the best of the various aspects of IFEC, and also optimizing bandwidth costs, and yeah, in-seat power sockets (power socket or through USB) is a must otherwise scrap connectivity altogether if they don’t have it.