When it comes to gaining the ability to support in-flight connectivity, an increasing number of airlines are embracing a per-session model. This is among the reasons why the Seamless Air Alliance – which, by the way, has just happened United added To Airline Member List – Launched a set of tools To help carriers develop meaningful Service Level Agreements (SLAs) “with a focus on customer experience and metrics that truly reflect that experience.”
Airlines have moved from buying bandwidth to buying sessions for passengers. What airlines have asked us to put together are industry-agreed measures, Seamless CEO Jack Mandala said late last year in the midst of the Covid pandemic, when in-flight Wi-Fi usage fell along with commercial passenger traffic. .
And so, RGN posed the question to several ISPs in the months following our interview with Mandala – is the per-session form now dominant?
It’s certainly widespread, but according to everyone we spoke to — Intelsat, Viasat, Panasonic, Anuvu — airlines still want to choose. Some want the ability to renegotiate after the fact. As Intelsat Senior Vice President Commercial Dave Bigor said: “I think flexibility is the name of the game and having diversity in networks, diversity in antenna systems, all of those are really important components of that.”
While acknowledging that the per-session model is the most prevalent at the moment, Bigor told RGN, “I don’t think a single model has taken over like the one that controls everything and the end of everything. We have some airlines buy sessions, some like megabytes, some buy CIRs [committed information rates]. I mean everything you could dream of as a business model is being bought in this market. And I think that also creates differentiation because I don’t think all sellers are comfortable with all of these models. But if you have as much capacity as us, you can feel comfortable with a lot of business models.”
As for the per-session model, specifically, Bigor cautioned: “I think it leaves the airline exposed to a certain extent. If everything becomes free, I don’t know it will happen – I personally don’t think it will be – but if everything were released for free and you An airline, do you really want to pay with a session? I don’t think so. I don’t think you want to pay from MB either. I think you pay a flat fee and I think that works.”
But at the end of the day, Begur added, “We are not in the business of serving beer diluted with water.”
[C]Customers want good, high quality internet. This is what we will do. Whether it’s on a model per session, per megabyte, or something else subtracted – per plane, per month, or whatever – we’ll provide this kind of high-quality experience.
From Vyasat’s point of view, Vice President Richard Baldrige (in his then role As President and CEO), airlines still had divergent preferences and “we were fairly flexible”. But he stressed: “The real problem is – does the airline want to risk buying bandwidth in bulk or does the airline want Viasat to take some of that risk, those discussions mature as part of the process, and even after selection, they mature. In many cases, we were willing to take on the bandwidth risks associated with subscriber loads and the kind of performance they had.”
Viasat can accommodate a variety of models for airlines, including per session, fixed fare, and bulk. Said Baldridge:
Our primary goal is to increase participation on the plane, so we try to serve everyone on that plane, and if you can serve everyone well on that plane, you can attract other players in a way that helps reduce the burden on the airlines.
Moreover, when a passenger has a high-quality internet experience on board, that experience also has a positive impact on that passenger’s intent to travel in the future. Viasat’s statements about willingness to buy can be very meaningful when an airline is considering what type of arrangement might best suit its needs. (In the meantime, Viasat has also expressed interest in staying flexible in other ways, by incorporating its direct market approach. With the GX VAR ecosystem from Inmarsat Upon completion of its acquisition of the London-based company. GX VARs await details.)
Jeff Surrey is now Head of Commercial Aviation Business for Intelsat. But in his previous role as Vice President, Communication Solutions at Panasonic Avionics, he told RGN that from Panasonic’s perspective, “There are a number of different business models available to airlines today and it really depends on the capabilities, infrastructures, and desires of airlines to do so.”
“And what I mean about that is that in some cases you have a large airline that is very sophisticated in data analytics or management… they are buying capacity in a big terabyte solution or some kind of larger because they have the ability to manage that on a king. So, if they use Their WISP is doing their own thing and they’ve invested in those people and those processes and those systems to do that, you know, they’re going to buy the seed capability to the end.”
He continued, “I would argue that other carriers, and most carriers, are somewhat less invested in how this happens and more invested in ensuring they get the right service so they come to us and order more management service, so it might be sessions, revenue sharing, or subscription from The kind you might have on your phone.So, it really depends on how sophisticated it is [is] The airline in that area of operations.”
Many Panasonic airline customers continue to block broadcasts, which certainly helps control costs regardless of model. But the broadcasting capabilities will be unleashed in time.
“You know holding back broadcasts, I guess, is a bit like holding back the tide, right? Over time, everyone is going to move in that direction in some way or shape or form, just like you saw, you know, on your phone or at home on your network. Even What was just browsing – [now] “Everything else is a video – so you won’t stop broadcasting, so that will come,” Sarri said at the time, wearing a Panasonic hat.
Anuvu (formerly Global Eagle) has seen regional buying patterns form. “We see ‘demand’ from airlines from an RFP perspective, as you might imagine, to be ‘the price of everything and then we’ll look at it.’ I think it really depends on the market. So, in the more mature markets of North America, for example, we see Airlines want a flat rate for a fixed service. We see them want flexibility in moving both price and service on networks because the networks are wide, but we see there is consistency in demand that they recognize,” said the airline’s executive vice president – liaison Michael Piggott.
“We see [in] Some of the new markets are more hesitant, and therefore more hesitating and looking at session models, looking at consumption models, looking at things like that because they prove the value of the contact space for… their area, relative to their markets. So we see this difference a lot by region and what we do as an integrator and service provider, is we offer flexibility to clients including in [the] Contracting in certain situations provides flexibility to switch because sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Now there are caveats about all this. We wouldn’t get much exposure ourselves.”
But the key element of Anuvu is “we want to be flexible”.
So if you approach Anuvu Airlines about connectivity, and say, “I’m going to pay for your hardware, but I want a form per session and then on the capacitive front”, you ask RGN?
“We’re open to it and we’ve done it. There are tradeoffs to it. I mean we’ve talked about service levels, we’ve talked about how [those] Sessions are delivered. We don’t necessarily find the airlines, when they request a session model, they don’t necessarily want to manage multiple SLAs, like a per-session SLA, but they do want session delivery. But there is a lot of public administration to it. So a lot of the balance factor is where you set the SLA for the network, where you set the prices for sessions. All of these things.”
The industry, referring to the 2021 Seamless Air Alliance marketing materials, indicated that it is working around a service level agreement “which declares a front channel (link down to the aircraft) committed to classified data (per device or for the entire aircraft) and a target for maximum data rate. No agreement regarding the performance of the return channel (uplink) nor any solid plan for growth in session volume.”
On the other hand, its new IFC toolkit helps airlines set metrics related to application, service and network performance, in terms of reliability, availability, scalability, speed, accuracy and efficiency. According to the group, “to really measure the quality of the experience, you have to trace every link in the chain from the rider’s request to the end result they encounter.”
Thus, one wonders if the pricing landscape would be affected if Seamless airline members moved toward a more granular per-session SLA model, with each specific part of the service more formally defined. And if penalties are attached to each session, how can the risk factor for ISPs/satellite operators change, especially as consumption per device grows.