Estonian technology company RebelRoam believes free inflight messaging is the attainable first step along the path to free streaming capable inflight Wi-Fi. It has recently launched an app that makes existing onboard Wi-Fi options more secure, faster and cheaper. It does not actually provide a Wi-Fi connection, but rather enhances the experience offered by an existing Wi-Fi network.
- Estonia’s RebelRoam has recently launched an app that makes existing onboard Wi-Fi options more secure, faster and cheaper for users;
- It does not actually provide a Wi-Fi connection, but rather enhances the experience offered by an existing Wi-Fi network;
- RebelRoam says airlines have told them that “inflight connectivity business models are obsolete from the passenger point of view, unless the service is provided without surcharge”.
After launching the white label product at the APEX Expo in Sep-2018, RebelRoam says airlines have shown “great interest” in the app, but a problem remains with inflight connectivity… everyone wants it, but most are not willing to pay for the service. Airlines Know they need to offer connectivity to remain relevant in the marketplace, but the costs involved are hitting them hard, especially with the limited paid uptake.
RebelRoam says airlines have told them that “inflight connectivity business models are obsolete from the passenger point of view, unless the service is provided without surcharge”. Low single digit inflight Wi-Fi usage rates would seem to support this view.
“Although great progress has been made in rolling out high throughput services, the basic connectivity throughout the flight is still not as easily accessible as it could. The situation is remorseful, given the amount of money invested in equipping the planes with the latest in technology,” says RebelRoam.
The company believes that the path to free streaming capable inflight Wi-Fi globally should start with something more attainable, such as complimentary inflight messaging. But, it notes that inflight connectivity providers that offer the messaging only access tier capability to airlines today do it by “throttling the connection speed, not by the means of content filtering,” which “results in a massive cost to serve risk, holding the airlines back”.
“The first problem is that there is no Wi-Fi industry standard to implement content filtering on an access tier basis. And an even bigger problem is how to implement free inflight messaging in a multi-inflight connectivity environment or within airline alliances,” says Henri Ploom, CEO of RebelRoam.
According to Mr Ploom, the way to improve ROI is to give passengers a reason to pay more. Not with a new baggage fee, but by increasing inflight connectivity take up rates, strengthening brand, and building loyalty. He says RebelRoam has spent the past year listening to the airline industry. “We’ve heard one key problem over and over. Airlines know they must provide inflight connectivity to remain relevant, but IFC is killing their bottom lines,” he explains.
The RebelRocket Messaging Only app aims to become the solution with the bespoke app connector able to be implemented within the existing airline loyalty apps or as a standalone smartphone app and which can be branded and customised to individual airline specifications. With it, RebelRoam says it is possible to “cost efficiently” provide passengers with text only messaging (Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat, etc.) access to the inflight Wi-Fi.
As the app runs on flyers’ smartphones, there’s nothing to certify, nothing to integrate, and nothing to negotiate with connectivity or content providers. Passengers simply access the WiFi and download the app. And it is not just for onboard the aircraft as it promises to also provide passengers with secured public Wi-Fi at airports and hotels and reduced cellular roaming charges abroad.
Airlines will obviously be open to any solution that allows them to secure better returns for their investment in inflight connectivity. RebelRoam already provides onboard Wi-Fi traffic optimisation service to over two million connected passengers every month via contracts with 30 transportation companies operating 2,000 buses, cruise ships, ferries, trains and planes across 38 countries. The number of air users could now take-off with its new app offering.