Wi-Fi will eventually be free for all passengers on board airlines, says media solutions firm Volv.
In a recent blog post, the firm says people now see Wi-Fi as a “human right” and that due to the modern reliance on the technology customers will eventually demand inclusive Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet.
As BA announced it will introduce Wi-Fi across its entire fleet, Volv warns that companies who do not keep in touch with the demand for Wi-Fi in the air could risk falling behind and may “struggle to stay relevant”.
The blog said: “Based on the evolution of other forms of on-board entertainment, in-flight wifi will eventually become available to all, but right now the trend is to prioritise first and business classes, with ‘lower-speed’ or pay-per-user options for those in economy class.
“As the technology becomes more prevalent, airlines will likely move to provide ‘free wifi’ for all, with the additional maintenance costs passed on through the price of tickets.
“While it may seem like a frivolous luxury to some right now, the history of air travel, and indeed wireless technology, suggests that won’t always be the case. Those that can’t or won’t adapt will struggle to stay relevant in an industry that puts comfort and convenience at the forefront of the customer experience.”
The blog also says that, currently, with budget airlines taking more of the market share other airlines have used Wi-Fi as a means of offering more value.
Volv also predicts that the future of in-flight entertainment will be on passengers’ personal devices. Wi-Fi, it says, would enable them not drop “unfamiliar” in-flight screens in favour of users’ hand-held devices which, in turn, could create more legroom or space for more seats and allow more maneuverability for passengers to get comfortable.
The blog added: “By losing the seatback screen from planes, airlines can also massively reduce the weight of an aircraft, saving fuel and money in the process. The removal of seatback screens means more legroom for passengers, with no chunky power packs stored within the chair.”
The challenge in providing cheap Wi-Fi for all, Volv went on to say, was not connectivity but ravelling over multiple countries with different regulations. Passengers wanting to browse Google would lose access when flying over China, for example.
And the recent news of a ban from some countries to the UK and US of laptops and other larger devices could also provide a stumbling block.
“These new security measures have limited the technology allowed onto commercial flights, and airlines must consider the possibility that this could extend further to deny passengers a chance to use their personal devices despite paying for in-flight Wi-Fi,” the blog added.