OnAir testing new on-demand video service

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OnAir chief executive Ian Dawkins says the Geneva-based connectivity provider is in the midst of performing trials for a new on-demand video service expected to hit the market by the beginning of 2013.

"We are in discussion with a number of customers today for the product," says Dawkins.

Dawkins says that the service would focus on providing multiple clips up to 20min to 30min in length for passengers to watch inflight on their personal electronic devices, focusing on television content such as news and sports highlights.

OnAir's system is designed so that new video clips are transmitted to the aircraft via an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite radio link multiple times throughout the flight. Then, the information is stored locally on an onboard server, which passengers then access wirelessly with their personal electronic devices.

OnAir's service would not be considered live television, as it is does not stream directly to passengers' devices in real-time. Instead, it is more akin to on-demand video, as passengers would be able to choose the individual clips they would like to watch as they are refreshed in intervals throughout the duration of the flight.

OnAir has tested the technology onboard an aircraft and plans to have more information about the service in the coming weeks.

In the trials, OnAir is testing how the system works when multiple passengers onboard an aircraft stream the content simultaneously, as well as the optimal infrastructure to support the service in the air and on the ground.

OnAir's recent OnAir Internet customers include Cebu Pacific and ANA, which will start offering the wi-fi on part of their aircraft fleets in 2013.

Capabilities for-demand video and live television services on personal electronic devices has surged in recent months. In June, Southwest Airlines announced that it started testing California-based Row 44's live inflight television service with seven channels. Gogo has already launched a streaming on-demand video service, Gogo Vision, on American Airlines' aircraft in 2011.