Without a doubt most of you have been on a flight where Wi-Fi access is available. Sometime ago I blog about the cost of using these services while flying and expressed my opinion that I thought it to be too high. I no longer hold that opinion. In fact, I dread boarding on a flight where Wi-Fi is not available. Therefore, I found it a little surprising that Gogo, the leading provider of inflight Internet access, was sued for offering their services in a non-competitive manner. Gogo, which has an 80% market share, is facing a class action lawsuit that alleges it has violated antitrust law by negotiating long term contracts with the major airlines. As this suit winds its way through the court, let’s look at the benefit.
Now when in flight, I am able to read and response to emails, texts and even see the presence of fellow co-workers (yes, hosted unified communications even works in the air). I can collaborate in near real-time (there is some delay) on presentations, documents and even discussions. And while I have only done it once, I can also view slides and materials presented during a web meeting, such as the ANPI VIP Present Now application. All of these capabilities make my like easier by allowing me to the ability to avoid delays in responding to people or clearing my email. While most of mu communications is between me and staff on the ground, a couple of weeks ago I found myself discussing business with a new customer who was inflight as well but on a different plane. That was definitely worth the small amount per flight or monthly subscription.
Gogo does have competitors such as Panasonic and OnAir. Their success has been mostly international. However, AT&T has announced that it is going to offer a competing service in 2015 using its 4gLTE network. The AT&T announcement did cause Gogo’s stock price to drop as there is concern about its ability to compete with such a large service provider.
However, the service is not useful if you are stuck in a middle seat and cannot use your computer. This week I was relegated to sitting in the middle seat for three hours. After elbow fighting with my seat mates I was only a little uncomfortable. But throughout the flight, we continued to have elbow skirmishes. The solution may be this new seat design referred to as the Paperclip Armrest. The Paperclip Armrest solves the problem of fighting for elbowroom. It features a double-deck geometry that allows two persons to share an armrest. The faster the airlines decide to adopt this, the better!