In-Flight Connectivity

In just a few years, ubiquitous connectivity has moved from a vision statement to an assumed reality in much of the developed world. Leveraging this expectation, several airlines offer in-flight connectivity (IFC) among their extra amenities on commercial flights. At the end of 2015, 72 airlines had already installed or announced plans to install passenger connectivity systems on board, and the number of connected commercial aircraft is expected to grow 5x over the 2015-2025 period, to reach 62% of the global fleet. In 2017, there were over 56 airlines that offer WiFi as a service according to a popular frequent flyers’ website.

Since first appearing on the market in late 2004, IFC has grown to become a key feature of flights for many passengers and an important component of revenue for airlines. Passengers are reported to consider IFC when making travel decisions. A Honeywell survey found that 85% of passengers used IFC in 2013-2014 and 66% of them selected flights based on IFC availability. According to a recent survey from Inmarsat, 61% of passengers consider WiFi more important than in-flight entertainment and 40% rank it as one of the top-3 drivers for airline choice. A 2016 market report from Euroconsult states that total revenue from passenger connectivity services are expected to grow from $700 million in 2015 to nearly $5.4 billion by 2025, a 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the 10-year period. Beyond passenger connectivity and airlines’ revenue, IFC technologies are being proposed as the basis for future iterations of critical aviation infrastructure such as air-traffic management systems.

Our work focuses on characterizing the performance of deployed IFC systems, understanding the challenges and developing solutions to improve users’ experience with IFC.

We have developed a number of tools to crowdsource network measurements of consumer IFC technologies and improve user experiences when browsing in-flight.




James Newman, Robert H. Belson, Fabián E. Bustamante

Scaling up your web experience, everywhere Workshop

Proc. of the International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile), 2019.

Abstract | BibTeX | Links:

John P. Rula, Fabián E. Bustamante, James Newman, Arash Molavi Khaki, Dave Choffnes

Mile High WiFI: A First Look At In-Flight Internet Connectivity Conference

The Web Conference (WWW), 2018.

Abstract | BibTeX | Links:

John Rula, Fabián E. Bustamante, David R. Choffnes

When IPs Fly: A Case for Redefining Airline Communication Workshop

International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile), 2016.

Abstract | BibTeX | Links: