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5G in Aviation

The future of aviation worldwide is one of significant continuing growth in air travel, air cargo, and private general aviation. In parallel with this growth, a significant increase in the supporting information infrastructure will need to occur. The infrastructure will support two primary functions: aviation operational needs (which includes airline operations, air traffic management/air traffic control, flight information services, and crew communications), and passenger services (internet connectivity, voice/data, travel services, etc.). This infrastructure must also enable radical new air traffic management methods, which require a large flow of information between the aircraft, air traffic service providers, and airline operations centers.


Airline operational needs require major improvements to the communications infrastructure compared to the current system. The strain of increased air travel on the national and global aviation systems is resulting in increasing system congestion, whereby travelers experience
growing delays and cancellations, and airlines suffer significant operating cost impact. To combat this growing congestion, radical new methods of managing air traffic are needed, as well as increased ground facilities (e.g., new runways and increased use of underutilized airports).


This exponential increase may cause a shortage of the radio resources and collapse the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, on which will rely the safety of billions of future passengers. Current aeronautical communications between the air and ground are primarily in the VHF band (118-137 MHz) which will be unable to provide the required system capacity and coverage. Hybrid information infrastructure architectures, which include satellite communications links as a key component, are being proposed.


Mobile communications systems have evolved through wireless technology innovation into 2G, 3G, and then 4G to keep pace with ever-increasing voice and data traffic. Countries are now racing to deploy 5G, short for 5th generation mobile networking or 5th generation wireless systems.


The coming 5G standard will offer towering benefits, such as seamless coverage, high data rate,  low latency, and highly reliable communications. 5G is expected to deliver up to 20 Gigabits-per-second peak data rates and 100+ megabits per second average data rates and  will increase energy efficiency, spectrum efficiency,  and network efficiency.


The Fifth Generation (5G) mobile networks promise fast Internet for everyone, smart cities, driverless cars, critical health care, the “internet of things” revolution, and reliable and secure communications for critical infrastructures and services.


5G is also predicted t0 transform aviation. The avionic systems inside airlines, for instance, can have accelerated communication with control towers upon landing via highly reliable 5G connectivity. Also, real-time equipment monitoring using 5G networks can enable predictive maintenance, with 4K/8K video analytics enabling airlines to monitor aircraft turnaround processes. 


With 5G connectivity on commercial and business flights, passengers might notice that technology use during air travel mirrors capability on the ground, whether that’s video reliability and performance, access to cloud-based software and more. When on the airplane, passengers could benefit from a 5G-enabled experience by utilizing AR/VR  capabilities to access 8K or UHD content, or by tapping into lighter-weight and faster in-flight entertainment services.


The in-flight entertainment systems are now being upgraded to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) options supported by in-flight connectivity. This can have several advantages. Removing displays and onboard server components can considerably reduce aircraft weight, which translates to higher fuel efficiency. And replacing seat-integrated displays with fast and reliable in-flight broadband means cutting considerable maintenance costs.


Weather issues, meanwhile, can cause significant operational expense in addition to flight delays. With a 5G network providing high-speed connectivity, airports can monitor runways from the control tower and send autonomous snowploughs to clear the runways, reducing the reliance on on-call drivers. 

Even the sharing of flight information, seat allocations and terminal data can be improved by 5G, whether through holographic advertisements or other bandwidth-intensive means to divulge dynamic, personalized information in real time.

Airlines could also improve their cargo and people movement, with 5G providing the backbone to deploy vertical take-off drones (e.g. electric air taxis) to the nearest location using a smartphone application.


5G in the aviation market

The global 5G in aviation market is projected to grow from USD 0.54 billion in 2021 to USD 9.92 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 47.03% in 2021-2028.


5G in Aviation is a core wireless communication and networking system connecting the
aviation infrastructure and technologies which facilitate data exchange to their end-users.
The mobile networks of fifth-generation broadly commercialize wireless communication
and networking technology by the 4G LTE communication and hardware infrastructure
replacement. The 5G connectivity up-gradation offers faster internet connectivity
compared to previous technologies.


Expanding the technical scope of aviation Internet of Things (IoT) along with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) concepts is the main object of 5G in the aviation market. 5G in aviation facilitates the tremendous potential of integrating digital technology with mass utilization, thus fueling the market growth of 5G in the aviation market. 5G in the aviation industry is at a nascent stage. However, the aviation industry’s adoption rate and application are well-articulated due to its low latency and ultra-high reliability with technological assimilation in digital aviation. Market forecasting for digital aviation is estimated to encompass the whole ecosystem of commercial and business aviation from aircraft OEMs to airlines and towards their facility users from MRO service providers to all stakeholders.


Factors such as a rise in demand for 5G infrastructure for aircraft flight operations, several applications of 5G, such as high-speed data streaming and real-time health monitoring, are projected to be some of the leading 5G in aviation market trends. In drones, 5G technology can be used to provide real-time data effectively.


Growing demand for high-speed internet connectivity for airport and aircraft communication and networking is also expected to fuel the market’s growth. 5G technology in aviation used for aircraft safety and security purposes at the airport. It can also use voice communication, high-speed internet connection at airports and air traffic control towers, and air traffic management. The introduction of the 5G connectivity for the Nextgen air traffic system is estimated to grow
the demand for 5G in the aviation industry.


On the airport side, ground operators send across real-time data with the help of a fast internet connection towards baggage and gates, which is projected to fuel the growth of 5G infrastructure for airports. Moreover, increasing demand for better flight experience and fast internet connection throughout the flight journey is expected to boost up the growth of the 5G services market in aircraft operations.


Rising Demand for Fast Internet Connectivity in Aviation Industry to Boost 5G in Aviation Market
Internet connectivity plays a crucial role in better aircraft connectivity. 5G represents a
technologically advanced seismic shift along with fast internet service. 5G technology can be used a hundred times faster than its predecessor, 4G LTE. In addition, 5G networks have much higher capacity, providing a constant, guaranteed, and high-speed connection to passengers. The effects of better Wi-Fi connectivity are a primary aspect of the aviation industry.


Passengers can watch high-definition video access according to their preference during air travel, substantially augmenting the 5G in aviation market revenue.


High infrastructure development cost, lack of 5G infrastructure availability, 5G spectrum
distribution issues, and technology adoption rate are the major factors hampering the
market growth of aviation 5G market. As per Forbes, Non-standalone 5G networks vastly
dependent on the 4G infrastructure which hampers the populace’s 5G expectation owing
to high latencies and lower internet speed. Network aggregators can’t maximize their
network user’s experience, as the current infrastructure doesn’t facilitate the network
slicing. Thus, the network aggregators need to transition the non-standalone 5G networks
to standalone 5G networks. The lack of market growth is also influenced by inability in
organizing the global events such as Olympics alike Pre-COVID times. This development
may hamper the deployment and development of 5G mmWave infrastructure, as such
global level events may propel the demand in densely populated locations, such as
airports, stadiums, and malls.


By Platform Analysis

“Growing Demand for Internet Connectivity at Airports Estimated to Boost 5G in Aviation Market”
The 5G in the aviation market is segmented into 5G airports and 5G aircraft based on the
platform. The 5G airport segment holds a higher market share in the 5G in the aviation
market. The growth of this segment is projected to the increasing demand for better Wi-Fi
connectivity for passengers. In July 2020, in accordance with 3GPP R16 standards has been
approved and released, which has paved the way for the spectrum distribution and 5G
deployment on large scales within airports worldwide.


On the other hand, the 5G aircraft segment is estimated to grow at a higher CAGR during
the forecast period. This growth is due to the several applications of 5G in flight and
passenger drone operations, such as technologically advanced real-time monitoring and
in-flight entertainment services. The factors such as the proliferation of 5G technologies,
high inflight entertainment adoption rate, and the standardization of inflight 5G
Communication equipment and services are expected to influence the market growth in
the 5G aircraft segment.


By Technology Analysis

“Increasing Demand for Latent-free Cloud Access and Real-Time Air Traffic Alerts Drives Market

By technology, the market segmented into Massive Machine Type Communications
(mMTC) and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC), enhanced mobile
broadband segment (eMBB), and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The enhanced mobile
broadband segment (eMBB) is estimated to hold a significant market share of the 5G in the
aviation market. In April 2020, Gogo and Airspan launched the 5G air-to-ground broadband
for aviation, in which Gogo is utilizing Airspan’s carrier-grade 5G technology for its inflight
entertainment services.


The ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC) segment is anticipated to be
the fastest-growing segment by technology with the highest CAGR during the forecast
period. This growth is attributed to the high demand and adoption rate of the URLLC apart
from eMBB, low latency, and better serviceability. The mMTC (massive Machine Type
Communications) holds a significant market share in the market during the forecast period
attributed to technologically advanced IoT-based 5G technology for aircraft and airport
operations the accessibility in the no network areas. In November 2020, NEC Corporation
announced the selection of NTT DOCOMO Inc. as a service provider for 5G network
compatible with Standalone 5G for NTT Docomo. The provision of UPF mini supports 5G
technological features such as URLLC, eMBB, and mMTC.


“Increasing Demand for Sophisticated Communication Infrastructure at Airport is Responsible
for Market Growth”

Based on communication infrastructure, 5G in the aviation market is segmented into a
small cell, Radio Access Network (RAN), and Distributed Antenna System (DAS). The small
cell segment is projected to lead the market during the forecast period. This growth
attributed to the exponentially growing aviation sector across the globe owing to
increasing air passengers, increasing demand for Wi-Fi connectivity from the onboard
passengers, and digital connectivity from the aviation industry. The small cell segment is
more environment-friendly and will deliver a more seamless 5G signal with reduced power

Thus, airlines are projected to focus on developing small cells due to better coverage and
quality of 5G networks. Due to this, the demand for small cells in the 5G market in aviation
is witnessing high market growth. The RAN segment is anticipated to hold a significant
market share during the forecast period attributed to the high adoption rate of RAN-based
technology and Open Ran Network service providers. For instance, Gogo entered into a
partnership with Cisco, Airspace, and First RF to provide Air to Ground (ATG) 5G network
for the US market. Gogo will be offering its Air5G product to provide 5G through a
virtualized RAN-based station technology, along with development on new antennas and
modems for commercial and business aircraft. The company’s 5G bandwidths network will
be using 2.4GHz and 850Mhz spectrum frequencies.

By 5G Services Analysis
“Increasing Number of Tasks Associated with High-Speed 5G Services to Support Market Growth”

Based on 5G Services, the market is classified into airport operations and aircraft
operations. The airport operation segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during
the forecast period due to the acceptance of high-speed 5G Connected services for ground
operations to send real-time data towards the baggage system and check-in gate system.
In May 2021, NTT Ltd. and Cologne Bonn Airport are mulling the experimental joint
research for intelligent airport operations. Intelligent airport networks help revolutionize
passenger experience, specifically at security checkpoints, runway monitoring, and building
management. Passenger demand and airport fleets increase in size, IoT, 5G usage,
effectively changing the aviation and aerospace industry, which will help to boost up the


The aircraft segment is anticipated to grow with the steady growth in the forecast period,
attributed to the high demand for inflight connectivity among the OEMs and airlines for
their commercial and business aircraft fleets. In March 2021, Global Eagle has received the
STC certification to install the Airconnect Global Ku inflight connectivity (IFC) system, which
can be installed onboard a Boeing 737 aircraft. It is anticipated to demonstrate the inflight
connectivity solutions capability on Turkish Airlines’ short-haul narrow-body aircraft fleet
for international and domestic routes.


North America is expected to lead the 5G in the aviation market share throughout the
forecast period due to the aviation industry’s expansion. Key players such as Cisco
Systems, ANUVU, Gogo, Inseego Corp, Intelsat, Smartsky Networks, Panasonic Avionics, At
& At&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and Charter will further drive the growth of the 5G in the
aviation market. The market majorly moves by the increasing demand for air travel and
better flight experience. In addition, increasing passenger traffic in this region leads to an
increased need for better internet connectivity in domestic & international airports and
aircraft. Besides, the expansion of connected aircraft and smart airports in this region
boosts the regional market’s growth.


Asia-Pacific is the second-largest market and competing with North America to become the
largest market. Asia-Pacific also shows remarkable growth due to an increase in the budget
allocated for the aviation infrastructure sector in China, Japan, and India. Along with the
rest of Asia-Pacific, these countries are projected to drive the 5G in the aviation market.


China is a prime leader in providing 5G technologies due to Huawei and China Mobile
providers. In May 2021, ZTE and Chinese telecom operators discuss establishing the ATG
5G network to support inflight connectivity for the Chinese Domestic Aviation Market. In
Japan, the government is increasingly focusing on building 5G infrastructure at airports. In
Australia, Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications company, has indicated its plan
to build 180 5G-ready sites by 2019 in Australia, which are expected to support the
infrastructure demand for 5G connectivity.


As per the 5G in the aviation market forecast, this market is dominated by a few key
companies due to their prime product portfolio, informed strategic decisions, and market
share dominance. Furthermore, these companies have a widespread geographic presence
and are continuously investing in R&D, resulting in secure regulatory approvals. In
addition, companies are continually expanding their business by adopting strategies such
as sizable investments in mergers & acquisitions, capability enlargement, joint
development ventures, design and engineering, and long-term contracts & agreements. As
a result, market players such as Huawei, Cisco Systems, Gogo, and others will strengthen
the market position concerning 5G in aviation across the globe.


Key players include: AeroMobile Communications Limited (U.K.), Cisco Systems Inc. (The U.S.),
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Sweden), ANUVU Inc. (Global Eagle Entertainment Inc.) (U.S.)
Gogo LLC (U.S.), Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (China), Inseego Corp. (U.S.), Intelsat Corporation (U.S.), Nokia Corporation (Finland), OneWeb Ltd (U.K.), Panasonic Avionics Corporation (U.S.), SmartSky Networks LLC (U.S.)



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