The number of commercial airplanes offering in-flight Wi-Fi service will soar over the next five years. By 2022, some 14,419 planes will be equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, up a whopping 175% from 5,243 this year, according to projections from Juniper Research, a Hampshire, U.K. market researcher.
That would mean that in five years, half of the world’s passenger fleet will be connected where less than a quarter of commercial planes are now, Juniper said.
Related: These Airlines have the Best Wi-Fi
Demand for airplane Wi-Fi is driven by the continuing bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, boom. People want to use their personal tablets or smartphones nearly everywhere to work, play games, or surf the web. That’s not something they can do in non-connected airplane mode. So airplane Wi-Fi is becoming table stakes for airlines.
It’s also a profit center, given the current rates charged by providers like Gogo (gogo), which is used by Alaska Airlines (alk) and United Airlines (ual), Gogo charges $7 an hour or $19 per day for access. Frequent fliers can purchase monthly or annual passes. American Airlines
Juniper Research also noted an increase in the number of airlines offering in-flight wireless streaming services as an option to the usual seat-back entertainment systems. The researcher expects that monthly revenue from such streaming services will rise 30%.
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There’s one very sticky issue on the horizon however. Security concerns that caused the U.S. government to propose (then back off from) a laptop ban in the passenger cabin of some flights, which clearly could be a factor.
Another issue: Just having Wi-Fi does not mean that the connectivity experience aboard a plane is great. It often isn’t. Here’s hoping that quality will improve along with quantity.