OnAir to demonstrate new multimedia offering at APEX expo

Washington DC
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Geneva-based connectivity provider OnAir will be demonstrating a new multimedia offering known as OnAir Play at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) expo in Anaheim next week, says the firm.

The new service combines streaming video content with online retail technology and inflight news updates. Airlines can choose all three services or several different packages with varying levels of content, says Francois Rodriguez, OnAir's marketing director.

The product has been developed with an airline customer, says Rodriquez, and is scheduled to begin flying next year. OnAir declines to name the carrier.

Multimedia content such as television shows and movies can be tailored to be delivered to passengers' portable electronic devices (PEDs) or in-seat inflight entertainment screens depending on the airline, he says.

The connectivity provider has developed OnAir Play with content specialist DTI to bring secured digital rights management (DRM) content to passengers' own devices.

With the Play module, OnAir has expanded upon a demonstration it did last year called SBTV, which links real-time news clips to the aircraft at intervals throughout the flight through a SwiftBroadband L-band satellite link. The new service will offer these headlines beamed from the satellite during the flight as well as provide the multimedia content streamed from a local server on board the aircraft.

OnAir is also developing location services for the Play module that will allow passengers to see landmarks like hotels and restaurants on a map of their destination, meanwhile providing ancillary revenue opportunities for airlines.

"OnAir Play marks the start of a new era in how we spend our time during the flight", says Ian Dawkins, OnAir's chief executive. "On the ground the way we watch TV and films or listen to music has changed to an on-demand mentality."

OnAir Play will complement OnAir's existing internet and GSM mobile services that allow passengers to make calls and send text messages during flights. Eighteen airlines use one or both of these services today, including TAM Airlines and Singapore Airlines. The firm expects to have 25 carriers signed on by the end of the year for its passenger wi-fi and mobile offerings.