Research firm predicts big growth in in-flight broadband revenue

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Broadband-hungry airline passengers will generate over $49 million worldwide in 2009 and the market will grow well beyond $1 billion annually by 2012, research firm In-Stat reports.

Airlines across the USA are adopting in-flight broadband systems at a rapid rate. Thus far, Aircell has taken the lion's share of the business with an air-to-ground (ATG)-based solution. However, Row 44's Ku-band broadband offering is being trialled by Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Outside the USA, Norwegian has signed up for Row 44's solution. Additionally, Lufthansa is looking to reinstate in-flight Internet on overseas flights. The carrier previously offered now-defunct Connexion by Boeing's Ku-band service, but is currently working with a teaming that includes T-Mobile and ViaSat.

"The market is clearly gaining momentum, with deployments escalating in number," says In-Stat analyst Daryl Schoolar.

Live broadcast video is also poised for significant growth in 2009, according to In-Stat. While this service is more established than in-flight broadband, usage revenues are still anticipated to nearly double in 2009 and continue to grow strongly through 2013, says the firm.