In his keynote speach at recent Air Transport IT Summit 2009 event, held in Cannes [France], Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA [Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques] announced that almost two thirds of all airliners in the world are planning to adopt some sort of network connectivity.
According to Francesco, "The aircraft will become another ‘NODE ON THE NETWORK’. A FLYING DATA CENTRE linked through wireless broadband to an airline’s ground-based network."
Regardless of the competition in on-line connectivity in planes, with ku-band satellite operators going head-to-head against cell towers operators such as GoGo by AirCell, offered in the US by Virgin America, Delta and American Airliners.
According to SITA and its 550 members, high-speed upload capabilities are considered very important, as software loading and in-flight entertainment loading are taking ground. Airliners do not want to carry around heavy IFE systems, hence the recent wave of talk about SSD technology inside the planes.
Largest airline carriers such as Lufthansa stated that they want to implement a "flying data center" concept and start to stream the content instead of installing heavy equipment. Replacement of data tapes and conventional hard disk drives with SSD is a norm. Bear in mind that every gram in the aircraft consumes fuel, and if there would be a weight reduction of 100 kg or more, that means around more than a million dollars in savings over the life of the aircraft.
Whatever happens, it looks like we’ll be able to play online games in planes again. Have to admit, playing World of WarCraft back in 2006 at 12 km above the ground [Lufthansa Boeing 747-431, HKG-FRA] was really something.