Viasat Commercial Aviation Blog

IFE 101

All your questions answered on in-flight entertainment, including wireless IFE, content, streaming, connectivity and in-flight connectivity. If there's anything we haven't covered, please get in touch with Viasat here.
Q: What is in-flight entertainment?
A: The delivery of a variety of content to airline passengers while in flight, such as movies and TV programs, stored on an onboard server, and access to the internet. Utterly essential for any flight over two hours. Great to have for short flights too. IFE stands for in-flight entertainment, while IFC stands for in-flight connectivity.
Q: What content is available on IFE?
A: Depending on IFE supplier and connectivity availability, passengers can access movies, TV shows, music, moving map (shows position of aircraft on journey map), shopping, live streaming content such as Netflix, the internet, destination content and more.
Q: What is seatback IFE?
A: The screens on the back of the seat in front of you are typically installed in the Boeing or Airbus as linefit items from service providers, who manage the content on behalf of the airline. The installed screens and associated wiring add a lot of additional weight to the aircraft, which means extra fuel burn every flight and maintenance.
Q: What is wireless IFE?
A: Wireless Access Points (WAPs) deliver a cabin Wi-Fi network, enabling passengers to connect to the network on their own phone, tablet or laptop. Content is delivered to the WAPs from an onboard server, which can be linefit (installed on the production line in the aircraft factory) or retrofit (fitted after the aircraft has entered service).
Q: How is wireless IFE content delivered to the aircraft?
A: Where an aircraft is fitted with inflight connectivity (IFC), content can be delivered over broadband at any time, even while the aircraft is in flight. For aircraft without IFC, content can be delivered over Wi-Fi, 3G/4G, Ethernet cable or via memory sticks/swappable drives while on the ground.
Q: Can I access the internet on the IFE?
A: Yes, if the aircraft is fitted with broadband hardware and connected to a broadband provider.
Q: Does an aircraft need internet connectivity (IFC, In-flight Connectivity) to deliver wireless IFE?
A: No. Wireless IFE is delivered over a self-contained aircraft cabin network. But the cabin network can also be used to deliver inflight internet.
Q: What are the advantages of internet connectivity with wireless IFE?
A: Internet connectivity allows content updates while the aircraft is in flight. It also enables real-time payment processing and the delivery of analytics, retail and ancillaries data back to base while the aircraft is in flight. Internet connectivity also delivers benefits to pilots, cabin crew and flight ops, by creating a real-time data network, connecting crew devices and the aircraft's data with base.
Q: Can wireless IFE generate ancillary revenues for the airline?
A: Besides the immediate opportunity to sell premium movies, live events and other premium content, wireless IFE enables the sale of multiple products and services to passengers. Some airlines offer paid internet access when the aircraft is broadband-connected, while many airlines offer free internet access to passengers.
Q: Can I stream live content from the internet, such as Netflix or live sports?
A: Yes, provided the broadband connectivity provider supplies enough bandwidth. Low bandwidth means poor performance. Some inflight broadband providers manage expectations by driving up the cost of access. This limits internet access to a small number of passengers (who are willing to pay), to deliver a passable experience.
Q: Can Viasat supply wireless IFE to aircraft without inflight connectivity?
A: Yes. Our wireless IFE product is designed to deliver a great passenger experience and enable the fast generation of ancillary revenues, even when the aircraft is not connected to the ViaSat inflight broadband service. The cabin hardware network that delivers wireless IFE can then be used to deliver inflight Wi-Fi internet when the airline utilises our IFC service. Of course, we can deliver both connectivity and wireless IFE from the start also.
Q: How can I learn more about Viasat Wireless IFE?
A: Download our wireless IFE case study and tell us a little about your needs here.
Q: How can I learn more about Viasat inflight broadband internet?
A: Click here to learn more, then get in touch.  

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