Back in 2005, Operators created the first GSM Standards for Aeronautical and Maritime Roaming (the Non Terrestrial Roaming Principles). As editor of the those standards I followed closely the evolution of Non Terrestrial Roaming over the years, its challenges and successes ever since.
We always wondered back then just how successful it could be to integrate communication (voice, sms, data) with a confined and often lengthy social setting. But since Non-Terrestrial Roaming on GSM was mostly charged at a premium it was difficult to see how it could become ubiquitous. So it was interesting for me to see the data below, now that data services have became affordable just how successful the customer using their own device on a vessel can be. Of course since Wi-Fi is anticipated in most public spaces these days (in New York City even in parks), it was only a matter of time before customers grew to expect it on planes and ships too.
Participants in Gogo’s global traveler research study represented sixteen countries and four regions around the world. All had flown on a round-trip flight in the past year. The study finds that international air travelers are generally tech-dependent and eager to find Wi-Fi onboard and more open to paying for the convenience.
As an incentive to its potential airline customers, Gogo found that Wi-Fi influences the booking decisions of 20% of passengers in all markets around the world, up from 16% in a Gogo study conducted last year.
Gogo’s study made a more in depth comparison between US customers and global customers:
83% of air travelers in regions outside the U.S. said they were interested in using Wi-Fi vs. 74% of U.S. air travelers.
71% percent of air travelers outside the U.S. show a strong interest in wireless in-flight entertainment vs. 59% in the U.S.
Part of this demand stems from a highly connected lifestyle on the ground, Gogo’s study would suggest. Travelers around the world are significantly more likely to carry Wi-Fi enabled electronic devices when travelling.
The most connected travellers around the world are in the region of Mexico and Latin America where 92% of travellers carry a Wi-Fi enabled device onboard and 77% expressed a preference to connect to Wi-Fi on their device in-flight.
Ranked second in the world for demand of these services, 86% of passengers in Europe and the Middle East carry Wi-Fi enabled devices and 73% want to find Wi-Fi services on their aircraft to connect using their device.
A close third is Asia, Australia & Pacific region where 85% of passengers carry devices and 65% want to use Wi-Fi inflight on their device.
Air Travellers in the US, where one will find the most connected aircraft around the world today, actually rank last for use of personal electronic devices with only 76% carrying electronic devices and 65% expressing a preferrence to connect their devices onboard.
One in three passengers, said Gogo use at least two electronic devices when flying. This affluence-factor is an important consideration for airlines pondering whether to add onboard Wi-Fi services. Gogo also found that passengers around the world are 23% more likely to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi than air travellers in the U.S.
While Wi-Fi connectivity interests passengers most, it is not the only Wi-Fi service they’d like to see more of and international passengers also expressed a strong preference for various other Wi-Fi services inflight.
71% of air travellers in other world regions would like to find in-flight wireless entertainment, compared to 59% of U.S. passengers.
70% would like to find LiveTV onboard, compared to 61% of U.S. passengers.
65% would like to find Mobile Voice services compared 42% in the U.S..
72% of passengers in other world regions would like to use connectivity to send text messages, compared to 59% of U.S. Travellers.
Source: Gogo, Skift, Jason Bryan