Broadband in aircraft gets a lift

There’s only 25 broadband aircraft in service right now, but that’s set to soar this year to 800, according to a report from market research firm In-Stat.

That’s not that airlines haven’t experimented with broadband in the past. For example British Airways briefly had a service onboard some three or four years ago.

Flying from London Heathrow to Kennedy New York, I was able to grab all my spam just 35,000 feet above British colony Rockall. What fun!

In-Stat analyst Daryl Schoolar claims the market is gaining momentum, with deployments escalating in number. The challenge is, he claims the struggling economy and competing technologies.

However, In-Stat thinks that in flight broadband equipment revenue will more or less double between 2009 and 2013, with providers like Panasonic, Aircell and Row44 competing feverishly for business.

The market in 2009 will generate $47 million, thinks In-Stat. And by 2012 will be worth over $1 billion.

By 2013, there will be over 200 million in flight broadband connects, with long haulers dominating over short haulers.

And if you’ve an iPhone, or the 2013 equivalent, handheld gizmos will account for a third of the connects.

We’ll see. One of the objections people often make to inflight anything is that it gives them a rare haven of peace where they’re not continually chased around by people sending them emails or leaving them voicemail. A plane high above the earth is one of the last few places where you can think without interruption from anything apart from a nice person bringing you a gin and tonic every so often.