Connected and entertained 35 000 feet in the air with Axinom

Connected and entertained 35 000 feet in the air with Axinom
21.08.2018 Sara Pepic

In-flight connectivity (IFC)

It’s difficult to imagine a longer period of time for modern human to go without consuming some kind of digital content, be it quick check-up on news, answering important work e-mails or just watching some funny videos online. Throughout latest decade internet has entered into more aspects of our daily life and there were less and less situations where we were totally offline, like on board of an aircraft. But staying connected and availability of internet gained such a crucial part of everyone’s life nowadays that it was just a matter of time and technological advances, till it would become a normal service that passengers expect to use when traveling.

As the focus for aerospace connectivity in the past was on providing a way for critical communication from and to aircraft, like operations and safety services, a wider spread of in-flight high-speed internet opens up additional and new use cases. Such industry trends, driven by passengers needs open more revenue channels through web browsing support for the whole IFEC.

With the coming years more and more aircrafts will provide connectivity options on-board and passengers will gain access to non-critical communication possibility. All of that greatly increases in-flight experience of travelers on their own devices, be it smartphone, tablet or laptop, or in-seat screens.

In addition to expanded possibilities for customers, the other side of those advancements are wide range of potential solutions for such service providers. Navigating the field with multiple vendors like internet service and payments providers, hardware manufacturers, IFC and IFE platform capabilities, content distributors and many more can be a challenging undertaking. Which is why Axinom, with our extensive knowledge and experience in aerospace market, is always happy to help out our clients in guiding them through their custom specifications, business requirements and timeline to map ideal solution that would fit their needs the best. In regards to connectivity options, Axinom can support clients with both standalone customized IFC and integrated personalized IFEC platforms, covering both on-ground and on-board components for seamless end-to-end solution.

Hybrid IFC

Although captive portals have been around for quite some time, the possibility to purchase connectivity on board of an aircraft is becoming more common now, which drives innovations in this segment. In cases of in-flight connectivity portals, it is important to avoid set-up where every click in the portal causes a round-trip to the ground, followed by long waiting times, which leads to waste of available satellite bandwidth and a frustrating user experience.

In-Flight Connectivity Platforms by Axinom consider all particularities of on-board deployments from the ground up. We can offer extensive connectivity management functionality, utilizing hybrid approach that prepositions some resources and components on the in-flight server on-board and gets other data from the cloud via internet connectivity. This architecture enhances the overall performance of a connectivity portal, as most of the communication between the passenger’s device and the captive portal takes place entirely on-board, without a single byte being transferred across the satellite link. This makes the portal extremely responsive and saves a lot of bandwidth. All of that guarantees consistency of performance and leads to positive PaxEx on-board.

With hybrid IFC solution it is possible to offer passenger options like duty free articles, food and beverages, destination vouchers, telecommunication services, flight upgrades, further transport services like Uber, baggage claim information and other airport services like terminal hotel and SPA options for purchase. All these can make use of an integrated connected catalogue, CRM and payment service. The usage of such selected partner services, for example, ground transport or hotel services could be free, while other connectivity services for the internet in general could be charged.

Connectivity Platforms built by Axinom are customized for specific requirements of solution, and can be integrated with 3rd party services and components We can incorporate several providers for internet services and payments with our Unified API, which ensures that different partners are handled by the backend and not by the frontend itself, in order to optimize user experience, bandwidth utilization, and costs. Such Connectivity Platforms are consistent with other capabilities of modern IFEC infrastructures, as they unlock a variety of options for supplementary revenue streams, like through advertising campaigns and e-commerce services.

Merging of IFE and IFC to IFEC

The availability of in-flight connectivity (IFC) on-board provides straightforward advantages to both passengers and crew, through web browsing, consumption of the high-quality content from multiple OTT providers, connected crew services and various other benefits, accessible directly via personal devices while traveling. Such industry movements made participants in the in-flight entertainment (IFE) space raise a question about market’s outlook and their future actions.

Despite boost of vast entertainment options with internet connection in the aircraft, IFE systems give passengers big libraries of quite diverse video and other content, which has reliable streaming without disconnections. “Early window” movies available through IFE provide different experience than usual everyday internet consumption does, and travelers can immerse in both throughout the duration of their flight.

Possibility to be online while on-board improves the overall PaxEx, and providing access to real-time communication and services at 10 000 feet, positions the in-flight connectivity as great enhancement of the modern IFE systems. This opens up new models and services, like over-the-top media streaming, real-time targeted ads, shopping catalogues, and other ancillary revenue sources to enter aerospace market. Axinom is already working in this direction, offering extensive in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) platforms that support connectivity options and captive portals, traditional and wireless BYOD and seatback IFE, e-commerce and on-board shopping, infotainment, advertising, crew services, fleet management, and many more.

Live TV and events streaming

Internet access while up in the air can enable real-time communication and keeping up with latest news, but modern passengers are eager to be even more connected and up-to-date with important events on the ground. In addition to more traditional VOD libraries of movies and TV Shows, expanding streaming possibilities with on-board internet can enable direct link to major live events, as well as access to TV Channels while comfortably traveling by plane. Be it the Academy Awards ceremony, World Cup coverage, live broadcasting of presidential election or your favourite Planet Earth series programme, IFEC developments and spread can enable passengers to be a part of those events even on transatlantic long-haul flight.

To serve such needs, coupled with the in-flight connectivity and captive portals, Live TV streaming comes as the latest addition to the range of capabilities of digital platforms built by Axinom. Axinom Live TV is a stable service that avoids streaming interruptions and breakdowns in the playback experience across most well-known and used devices, at the same time optimizing the use of satellite bandwidth. The system supports an unlimited number of parallel live streams with quality levels ranging from SD, HD, to UHD/4K, as well as TV channels and EPG.

Content protection is a prerequisite for allowing premium content on-board, and Axinom puts strong emphasis on the Digital Rights Management support for all major streaming protection technologies.

To get the best out of the available satellite connectivity, Axinom introduces its Smart Traffic Management technology as a way to optimize on-board Live TV and provide active control of bandwidth utilization. The system constantly analyses Live TV consumption on board an entire fleet and makes needed readjustments to ensure best PaxEx. For example, the most watched channels can consume more bandwidth on the satellite link, thus augmenting stream quality and providing the best possible user experience to the broadest audience. The same control mechanism can be adjusted to fit specific business needs, be it total bandwidth limitation or default prioritization of certain channels for streaming major events.

Personalization and monetization

Extensive IFE catalogue with early window content and multiple connectivity options on-board with stable service are awaited and often expected services for passenger during the flight, however most of business models in place do not cover set-up and maintenance for such systems for airlines, as they do not generate enough revenue. Instead of increasing prices for existing services which may only drive passengers away from purchasing them, there are other options to create new ancillary revenue streams. By adding new products, such as on-board shopping and destination-related offering to travellers and working on integration of IFEC with other airline’s systems, such as booking, reservation, frequent-flyer and customer relationship management (CRM), will provide the passenger with a seamless experience and simplifying the payment process.

With a wide-raging IFEC offering, coupled with apps for personal devices, much more tailored journey and info- and entertainment options can be targeted to passengers. Starting from on-ground there is a possibility to combine personal watch-list of movies or TV shows and pre-order menu items ahead of the flight. While on-board, a connectivity package can be purchased and traveler can access previously created playlists, buy some additional snacks or drinks, and surf the internet. Having arrived at destination, such post-flight options as availability and access to previously purchased content and multiple feedback and experience sharing options, help to enhance the journey for passengers and get valuable data for companies.

We at Axinom recognize the need and opportunities to increase ancillary revenues with expanded options in IFEC solutions, and by custom requirements of each of our clients, we tailor our Platforms to establish personalization and monetization possibilities in multiple ways. For example, through integration with CRM we can create access to real-time passenger data; connection to ad exchange services can provide real-time targeted ads; link to destination information can allow to reach destination related booking websites, and so on. Possibilities are truly endless, and Axinom is experienced and eager to provide solutions that cover all such scenarios.

If You would like to learn more about Axinom Digital Platforms for the Aerospace market, or have a need for an IFEC solution, please get in touch with Aleksandra Sõsun (sosun@axinom.com) and get more information about Axinoms’ approach.