China’s major carriers vie to provide inflight internet
China Southern Airlines has been approved to start testing satellite broadband internet on 10 of its A330 Airbus aircraft, after China Eastern's approval.
China Southern Airlines has also been approved by the Ministry of Industry to start testing satellite broadband internet on 10 of its A330 Airbus aircraft, hot on the heels of China Eastern Airlines getting similar approval. Like China Eastern, China Soutern will also use the China’s No 6 Pacific Satellite as its data transmission link.
KU band broadband satellite internet the preferred connection
China Southern has already installed internet on five of its A330 aircraft and plans to completely refit all 10 aircraft by June 2016.
China Eastern has already been approved to outfit 21 broad bodied aircraft in the “internet in the sky” project for long-haul services. The project’s satellite communications technology will give both its domestic and international flights connectivity.
A golden opportunity for Chinese carriers
China Eastern's vice president Chi Zhang said inflight internet would become an essential and standard project for airlines in the near future. “Interest in this service among passengers is already far greater than in traditional services. "Even if they are not thinking about the business advantage of having inflight internet, airlines would still launch the service just for attracting customers,” he said. In a survey conducted by China Eastern last July, 85% of passengers said that all else being equal, they would prefer an airline that offered internet service.
He said inflight internet service would create a huge resource portal and a perfect opportunity for offline resources to upload to online platforms. This will create yet anothe opportunity for the traditional aviation industry to embark on Internet Plus.
Pricing standard for inflight internet service
China Eastern said it is still working on a business model so the pricing standard for internet service is yet to be set. Mr. Zhang said after considering both pre-pay and post-payment models, they are inclined to choose an post-payment model with cost of internet covered by advertising or branding instead of the passengers.
An expert from the China Next Generation Internet Institute, Guangwei Mo, also said the business model of inflight internet would determine its pricing standard.
“The cost would be on the high side if it offers an all-inclusive service model, but it won’t be as expensive if it’s only a partial service,” he said, adding it would cost around US$3 million to outfit one airplane with inflight internet capabilities. However Mr. Zhang claimed that China Eastern’s inflight internet installation cost only a few hundred thousand US dollars per plane, far lower than Mr. Mo’s estimate.(Translation by David)