Airlines Are Advancing Airborne Adventures

© Peter Linder 2013 – All rights reserved
© Peter Linder 2013 – All rights reserved

An important part of city life starts and ends with air travel. In the US, 642 million passengers flew on 8.4 million domestic flights during 2012. So how can network technology go from a gate-to gate experience to an enhanced door-to-door experience?

Frequent flyers have embraced electronic boarding passes to make their lives easier. Less frequent travelers might not appreciate this new technology but surcharges by low cost airlines for paper tickets and paper boarding passes have converted both types of travelers. We are now beginning to get more refined flight information on-line: notification of delays, progress on stand-by lists and alternative options. This means less work for the screen at the gate and more information in your palm about your trip.

Wi-Fi is widespread in lounges at airports and in the waiting areas inside the terminals. However, few are accessible without a special access code or even at all in the check-in area. As so much information is collected at the booking and required en route, the addition of effortless airport coverage is the next big thing off the plane. Who wouldn’t like to check the box for “Device connectivity at airports en route” when booking a trip?

The entertainment screen in the chair in front of you has been an integrated part of the flying experience for decades. It’s about to get seriously challenged by the tablets most travelers bring on board. The only aspect missing is network capacity on board to support streaming entertainment services. Investing more in network capacity and less on commercial rights and video/DVD/Blu-ray players on board is a mainstream trend.

Last but not least, the networked flight attendant will be updated in the air about the impact of any weather-related delays, mechanical problems or slot times. Tablets and super-sized smartphones are becoming the new work horse to serve you better as you approach the end of your flight. Will I make my connection? Will I need any support for expedited rush between terminals? How long is the immigration line? Am I re-booked on a new flight already?

My predictions for the future of networked aviation are:

– The journey towards connecting airports, planes and passengers is in its infancy and represents the single most important source of adding values to air travel.
– Our smartphones will remain the key touch point for updates on day of travel, and will take over as the primary booking tools for trips.
– Our tablets will become the new personal entertainment screen as soon as satellite capacity allows for streaming during flights.
– Integrating taxi/bus/metro transport with networked aviation will extend the gate-to-gate experience all the way to a door-to-door experience.

Be Bullish! Broadcast Build Ballgame Buzz


© Peter Linder 2013 – All rights reserved
© Peter Linder 2013 – All rights reserved

A short while ago we outlined how NASCAR provides fans with an integrated live and multimedia experience. The next big thing is to bring fans of ball sports into a new key event experience environment, where live and multimedia is integrated. The first step is to upgrade venue coverage and capacity and then begin broadcasting video at arenas and venues to new “fansy-phones” – .e.g. phones specifically designed with great sports-viewing capabilities.

Verizon has announced that American football fans will get access to mobile-broadcast services at the SuperBowl in 2014. Baseball fans of the future will demand new “bold parks” allowing them to zoom in on the MLB action from a specific camera during the game. Basketball replays to your palm will fill the commercial breaks with continuous NBA coverage at the arena. Golf fans could follow their favorite PGA players at courses that are by nature very spread out. The live experience for tennis fans too can be taken to all corners of the world as the technology is adopted at ATP events. Last but not least, premium football/soccer experiences will be transformed over the next five years. When you can follow your player on the small screen and the overall action live on the big screen, it is like being your own producer, since you are the one who gets to pick which camera angle to see.

The reality today at most venues is that data capacity is restricted often to SMS/TXT services and Twitter updates. Right now advanced DAS, Wi-Fi and small cell solutions are being introduced to upgrade data capacity. Next, the network demand from video-rich services will call for new Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (eMBMS) solutions such as the new 4G enabler to complete the experience.

But what’s new here? Ericsson outlined Mobile Broadcast solutions in 2004. Mobile TV was THE topic at Mobile World Congress 2008. Multiple broadcast technologies (e.g. DVB-H, BCMCS MBMS and iMB) have been launched, with limited success.

Two things have changed. Connecting to fans through social media and enhanced live experiences has become a necessity for any major sport with the ambition to attract younger fans in the networked sports society. Next generation “fansy-phones” sporting a screen where you can actually see the ball, can be designed already today. These are two very strong drivers for an integrated live and multimedia experience.

My predictions for the future are:

• Efforts to enhance the user experience at key events will propagate quickly through various sport and arena categories.

• Between 2013 and 2015, Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast services will enter the market at premium sport venues, starting in North America.

• The introduction of “fansy-Phones” with eMBMS capabilities will target sports fans as the primary user group.

• Sports applications will be the catalyst of the initial network build-outs driving “fansy-phones” on to the market.

• Broadcast innovations beyond sports at venues are interesting add-on applications as the sport market matures, e.g. personal production @ event.