As the pioneer and world leader in mobile satellite communications, Inmarsat has been powering global connectivity for four decades. They provide governments, commercial enterprises and humanitarian organisations with mission-critical voice and high-speed data communications on land, at sea and in the air – and recently, they officially became members of the Wireless Broadband Alliance! We sat down with Asbjorn Christoffersen, Vice President – Retail Revenue Management, to learn a little more about Inmarsat and the services they offer:
- Tell us a little about Inmarsat and your involvement in the Wi-Fi industry
Inmarsat is a leading provider of satellite communications solutions to airlines, operators and passengers worldwide. We connect the entire aircraft from nose to tail, offering both operational and safety communications in the cockpit and high-speed, reliable broadband for passengers in the cabin.
We are unique to other satellite providers as we own and operate our entire network, which means we can respond to growing demand by allocating bandwidth wherever and whenever it’s needed and therefore provide customers with seamless inflight Wi-Fi wherever they fly.
- In-flight connectivity and roaming are a focus area for Inmarsat. What challenges are currently facing this space, and at the same time, what is being done to address them?
Being able to stay connected on the move is a fundamental part of everyday life on the ground today, so it’s not surprising that passengers now expect similar levels of connectivity when they fly. However, simply offering Wi-Fi is no longer a differentiator and many passengers expect to access it free-of-charge.
Over the past two years, we’ve seen a steep acceleration in free-of-charge Wi-Fi offerings; more than 30 airlines now offer access to it in some way or another. The industry now needs to find ways to offset – or better still – monetise the cost to make the most of the opportunities connectivity brings to both airlines and passengers. Some of the innovative ways pioneering airlines are doing this successfully include sponsorship, advertising, premium content, e-commerce and of course roaming.
- You recently joined the Wireless Broadband Alliance – why was that and what do you hope to get out of your membership?
It’s a very exciting time for us to be joining The Wireless Broadband Alliance; being part of this network will not only help raise our profile within the industry but will also enable us to collaborate with some of the leading players in the global wireless ecosystem.
Being part of the alliance will also play an important role in helping Inmarsat Aviation continue to deliver a quality Wi-Fi experience for our mobile network customers. WBA maintains and promotes the Passpoint and Hotspot 2.0 standard for roaming, which we hope will help facilitate mobile network customers access to our onboard Wi-Fi seamlessly, thereby driving take up rates through mobile data roaming, and creating revenue opportunities.
- You have outlined your interest in the In-Flight program and Wi-Fi Roaming – why is this important to you?
Providing the well-known ease-of-use experience that we all know from cellular roaming is a user experience that we wish to also bring to inflight Wi-Fi. It will be a differentiator in the market and has the potential to impact brand loyalty and satisfaction amongst today’s ‘always-on’ mobile subscribers. It’s largely an untapped market with huge potential. Mobile network operators that enable inflight Wi-Fi through Passpoint and Hotspot 2.0 roaming will significantly strengthen their acquisition and retention of the most premium mobile subscriber segments i.e. the business traveller. This is certainly a new avenue that we are keen to explore further with the WBA.
- With 2020 now in full swing, how is the year shaping up for Inmarsat?
Last year was a significant year of growth for Inmarsat, celebrating 1,000 installations of its next-generation passenger Wi-Fi services and signing a number of new customers including Scandinavian Airlines and Gulf Air and activating service with world-leading carriers from Air France to Virgin Atlantic.
This year is shaping up to be as exciting; we’re on track to expand our inflight Wi-Fi offering by welcoming more market-leading airlines onboard and connecting more passengers in the air.
Following the launch of our latest satellite, GX5, in November last year, we are also preparing for the next phase of network development to meet growing capacity demand. Our seven upcoming satellite launches over the next four years will deliver on our ambition to make the GX network the most agile and flexible constellation ever conceived, assuring customers that their requirements will continue to be met for decades to come.
Inmarsat has recently released a free white paper – “Disrupting the Airline Market: Free Passenger Wi-Fi.” Click here to download your copy.