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Kevin Rogers ceo Aeromobile

Talks To Onboard Hospitality At Apex

OBH: What services does AeroMobile offer to the airline industry? KR: It is a mobile phone service provider of onboard connectivity. Part of the Panasonic suite of services, it provides the X-phone component that goes with the WiFi component and the streaming service.

 Part of IFEC company Global Eagle, Row 44 is the largest provider of broadband Airborne Mobile Satellite Service (AMSS), with over 500 aircraft in service. It is also, claims chief technical officer John Guidon, the only company making a profit in IFEC. He cites the key reasons for this as technical excellence, a rational expansion plan, and a focused and experienced team. Row 44 is the first and only

company to offer live TV to passenger devices, and also video on demand, games, internet connectivity including iChat and Skype. There is no GSM coverage so no mobile phone connectivity. Said Guidon, they made the decision to leapfrog mobile phone provisioning, since it is not currently viewed as important as social media to current and future customers.

"Mobile phone provision is not currently viewed as important as

social media" John Guidon, cto, Row 44

A recent usage survey shows

that the most popular inflight online activities are currently social networking and email, with web surfing, checking news and shopping much less important. The system is in full service across four continents, with a recent extension across the Atlantic in cooperation with infrastructure partner Hughes. Icelandair will be taking advantage of the seamless coverage this provides. The system uses the Ku

satellite network, the most widely deployed frequency band in satellite communications, providing better performance because it delivers large areas of seamless coverage, which naturally suit devices used in flight. Global Eagle is sourcing content from all the major studios through its partially-owned subsidiary, Advanced Inflight Alliance (AIA). Their IFP Airside provides the interface. IFP is also working with FilmFlex on a downloadable service for inflight movies. The passenger gets a film download on his PED in the booking path, timecoded to watch during the flight. This is a good potential AR earner for LCCs but also represents added value for premium airlines.

Which airlines are using AeroMobile? It is in full commercial use with Emirates, Etihad, SAS, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Thai Airways and Transaero, with trials on KLM and Air France. That is a total of 160 wide- bodied aircraft now using the system.

How many airlines have similar technology? It is definitely the direction the industry is taking. All long haul carriers are interested in onboard connectivity, and in three to four years it will be commonplace. This relatively long timeframe is because of the rigorous certification required and aircraft service intervals.

How does mobile technology contribute to AR? We operate a revenue share with the airlines, which get a percentage of the fees from our roaming partners. These are increasing steadily and AeroMobile has seen a 200% increase in data transfer this year. Typically these fees are enough to pay for the installation costs. It also contributes to the overall passenger experience and is becoming a must-have for airlines.

What content does it make available? Passengers can enjoy all kinds of streaming audio and video including the latest films, games, books, electronic magazines and news, which are updated on each turnaround. When the aircraft has a broadband connection, passengers will be able to go to the internet, access email, Twitter or stay connected with their Facebook friends.

Is the service available to passengers on takeoff and landing? There is a trend towards relaxation of the standard airline procedures. You are now usually allowed to use your phone soon after touchdown, rather than when you are back in the terminal. However, mobile phones remain switched off for taxi, take-off and landing. The AeroMobile system automatically switches on just before cruising altitude and off during descent.

Are there cultural differences in how passengers like to use their mobiles? We definitely see different usage trends based on the passenger profile onboard. Routes out of the Middle East or North Africa see a lot more voice usage, for example. Currently there is a ban on the use of mobile phones in flight in the US. However, sentiment is changing and the FCC is now considering how to authorise the service. We expect significant progress to be made during the next 12 months that will hopefully lead to the use of mobile phone connectivity on equipped flights operating in US airspace.


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