Network Service Factors that Affect the Passenger Experience

Panasonic Avionics< Panasonic Avionics
07/20/23 4 MIN READ

In our previous article, we discussed how multi-orbit satellite network provides airlines with the flexibility and scalability required to grow in-flight connectivity capabilities—organically and profitably.

Check out the first part of our discussion on GEO and LEO satellites

Here, we will explore the customer-facing side of the equation. What, exactly, do passengers need when they settle into their seat and flip on their personal device or seatback screen?

Airlines face unique connectivity challenges

Fundamentally, passengers want their airline to give them an in-flight experience that resembles the ground experience as closely as possible.

To do that, airlines need to understand how to meet the unique consumer needs of the different kinds of people across their cabins.

This is a far more complex challenge than providing online connectivity to homes and organizations. A ground provider can offer the same basic, long-term package of services to an entire neighborhood, business district, or campus. But as a microcosm of the general population, aircraft carry a more concentrated diversity of passengers, all of them with their own service and product preferences.

Providing the connection isn’t enough. Pricing, product mix, ease of access and use, payment methods, and upload/download speeds are all important elements influencing the passenger experience.

How our network enables an in-flight experience resembling ‘at home’

Consumers are increasingly using high-performance apps that require high throughput and low latency, especially when using services such as video conferencing.

The real-time interactivity of social media is becoming a major source of growing consumer demand. According to network intelligence company Sandvine, 2022’s most popular online services by bandwidth were, in descending order video (both as a standalone and as an embedded component of apps), marketplace (online shopping), gaming, social networking, and cloud services. This generates a demand for faster download speeds to deliver a great experience for streaming, and increased return speeds required to enable great video conferencing and social sharing experience. Providing reliable connectivity is about an airline’s ability to seamlessly shift with tech trends.

Multi-orbit networks will offer downstream speeds approaching 200 Mbps to enable a great experience streaming, consuming videos, and hosting video conferencing. And since sharing and uploading content on social media is as important as consuming content, LEO architectures will deliver over 32 Mbps upstream per aircraft.

Additionally, LEO satellites’ proximity to Earth means LEO can deliver lower latency speeds, with faster response times. Latency is key for anything where users are interacting with the page, spanning from gaming, using cloud-based apps, or shopping.

Why better speed and latency don’t demand huge investments

Quality of Experience (QoE) services analyze how customers take advantage of that power—for instance, by measuring how increased throughput speed influences app usage.

As an example, Panasonic Avionics analyzed a trial run of the QoE platform using data collected from a major Europe-based international carrier. We discovered that, while customers enjoyed faster throughput, they didn’t necessarily stream, chat, or surf substantially more because of it.

This means that, contrary to popular thinking, airlines don’t necessarily need to invest in more bandwidth to substantially improve their customers’ overall quality of experience.

Instead, airlines should consider investing in connection speed and reliability to retain customer loyalty, then focus on increasing bandwidth as overall usage rises organically.

How to satisfy passenger demand for more pricing and payment options

Airlines cater to culturally and economically diverse markets, each with their own preferred method of curating and purchasing ancillary services.

For instance, business travelers may care less about pricing when their employers are footing the bill, whereas leisure travelers may be more price-sensitive. Offering passengers pricing plans ranging from basic free Wi-Fi to paid premium connectivity enables an airline to cater for different travelers.

And when your passengers decide to make purchases online (e.g. a connectivity package, meals, duty-free, etc.), their preferred payment method will likely depend on their region or country of origin. China is the global leader in digital wallet adoption with Alipay and WeChat Pay. In the U.S., physical credit cards are still largely used at both online transactions and at point of sale. In Europe, there is no one-size-fits-all e-commerce payment method: credit cards are the leading payment method in France and Norway, whereas debit cards are preferred in Belgium and digital wallets such as PayPal and Apple Pay, in markets such as the United Kingdom and Italy.

A payment platform offering numerous user-friendly payment methods leverages in-flight purchases by allowing passengers to use their preferred method.

How Panasonic Avionics can help your airline

Panasonic Avionics focuses on providing strong technical capabilities with a mix of service options, topped by data analytics to drive decision-making.

We can help you to analyze your customers’ consumer behavior and curate the most cost-effective mix of capabilities and services to offer them. Contact a Panasonic Avionics representative today to find out the right solution for your airline.

Subscribe to the
Panasonic Avionics Newsletter
for the latest updates!