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Anuvu going “all-in” on hybrid inflight connectivity


Some companies diversify into new markets in a bid to glean efficiencies. Others focus on their proficiencies and incubate within a particular sector. Anuvu, formerly Global Eagle, has, like many companies, experience with both approaches.

Over a decade ago, the Santa Ana, California-based firm gobbled up multiple content service providers and Row 44 to become a significant inflight entertainment and connectivity player. In 2016, a year after Panasonic Avionics acquired ITC Global, it opted to jump into Maritime, Energy and Government (MEG) by acquiring Emerging Markets Communications for $550 million, but quickly found itself having to perform “triage” at EMC. By 2019, it was already eyeing possible divestiture of MEG units. And early this month, that sale was completed, with Florida-based FMC GlobalSat acquiring from Anuvu its MEG-focused connectivity business operations.

Though Anuvu has retained the maritime entertainment side of the business and the teleport infrastructure supporting IFC, it is otherwise clearly narrowing its connectivity focus to aviation. Indeed, CEO Josh Marks says Anuvu has opted to “go all-in on hybrid IFC” in the space.

It’s a timely decision. In inflight connectivity, Anuvu is not only competing against Panasonic, which is pursuing a hybrid Low Earth Orbit (LEO)/geostationary (GEO) satellite-supported model for nextgen IFC (and itself pulled away from maritime, energy and enterprise in 2021), but also massive satellite players, including the newly merged Viasat/Inmarsat, and the soon-to-be-consolidated SES/Intelsat. Newly merged Eutelsat/OneWeb, though not yet showing interest in the direct aero ISP route, is feeding capacity to Panasonic, Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat. Not to mention the fact that SpaceX’s Starlink service is making gains in aviation.

One might see Anuvu as the wee David, up against multiple Goliaths. Does it even have a shot at growing its connectivity business in commercial aviation? Though it has enjoyed some successes (announcing recently that its Airconnect system is now installed on over 100 Turkish Airlines A321 and 737 narrowbodies), it has also suffered some disappointments. Viasat successfully snagged a portion of the new business at Southwest Airlines, one of Anuvu’s anchor IFC clients, and indeed snatched new tails at Anuvu customer Icelandair. And flydubai confirmed it is no longer offering Anuvu’s GEO satellite-powered inflight connectivity service, saying it will soon share a new IFC strategy.

Anuvu is well aware of the Starlink factor. After all, maritime is where Starlink, and a mass of hybrid solutions involving Starlink, is proving rather disruptive at present. Anuvu even inked a Starlink reseller agreement of its own in maritime, a model that SpaceX has thus far eschewed in aviation. But when asked if Starlink was a factor in any way for Anuvu’s sale of the MEG connectivity business to FMC GlobalSat in 2024, Marks told RGN:

Our success as a LEO maritime reseller confirmed our need to focus. As maritime LEO services have grown quickly, table stakes are global field support, LEO-centric network management and high-volume call centers. Those requirements are diverging from aviation, where we’re making technical investments to bridge airlines to hybrid GEO-LEO networks.

We’re evolving our hardware, modems and network software. Given that LEO aviation applications still need to address important regulatory, coverage, and antenna on-wing reliability hurdles, we decided to go all-in on hybrid IFC including our MicroGEO, third-party GEO, and LEO partnerships.

Some folks in industry wonder why Anuvu got into the deep-pockets game of connectivity at all. It is, after all, a power player in content, known in certain circles as the ‘CSP elephant in the room’, though some of the smaller guys have made notable gains in recent years.

“Our Media unit is consistently growing over 25% per year, with clear synergies between the aviation and cruise markets not only for core Hollywood content, but also enabling new investments in exclusive independent and TV content where we have benefitted from licensing scale across airline, cruise line and other non-theatrical markets,” Marks told RGN.


In doubling down on its proficiencies — IFC and aviation/maritime content — Anuvu won’t be spread so thin, and should be able to focus satellite capacity on aviation clients, including from the forthcoming Anuvu Constellation, which will comprise a cluster of MicroGEO satellites (with initial launches targeted at mid-year). The constellation is expected to serve as a ‘bridge to LEO’ for Anuvu, which itself is a big fan of Telesat Lightspeed and hopes for Lightspeed’s timely entry.

“This strategic decision aligns with our commitment to deliver innovation that moves our customers forward. By divesting these assets, Anuvu will streamline its operations and focus its efforts on bolstering innovation and service excellence to our clients,” said Marks in a published statement about the MEG connectivity divestiture. “We remain focused on delivering exceptional entertainment experiences to our aviation and maritime clients while advancing our global inflight connectivity business.”

On the content front, Anuvu is eager to see industry stakeholders collaborate, and adopt standards including around content metadata. It sees the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) as providing an important vehicle for that collaborative work. “I think in general, as an industry, we need to work closer together with all the different parties,” SVP, media & content Estibaliz Asiain told RGN at the APEX TECH conference in Los Angeles.

“So traditionally, CSPs have worked more with the content owners. And then you deliver to the OEM and you wash your hands and then whatever happens, happens there. If we were to work better as an industry and that supply chain then merges with the OEM supply chain, then that benefits the end customer, right. So what’s the point in me being able to deliver a file within 24 hours if then the OEM is going to have to deliver it to the customer a month later because they need to do some testing or they need to do this and they need to do that? So that’s for the file delivery itself. It’s also for the metadata for absolutely everything; we need to be more aligned and we need to be more standardized. And that’s what benefits everyone.”

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