Making the In-Flight Broadband Connexion

By Colin C. Haley

September 12, 2003

For trans-Atlantic flights, Boeing's high-altitude high-speed Internet service will be connected via the satellite operator.

Boeing has chosen satellite operator Intelsat to power its Connexion in-flight broadband service for trans-Atlantic flight beginning next year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"This is a contract spread over several years and is critical in terms of our ability to 'light up' the North Atlantic corridor with real-time connectivity," Connexion spokesman Terrance Scott told internetnews.com

Lufthansa and British Airways tested the system for the trans-Atlantic route earlier this year.

The contract includes two transponder leases that enable the transfer of Web pages, e-mail, data and entertainment content. Passengers will connect laptops or PDAs to wireless networks or Ethernet jacks inside equipped airplanes.

The companies say the speed is comparable to land-based cable modem or digital subscriber line service.

"This service is going to radically change the air travel experience and it has opened a new type of opportunity for the satellite industry," said Ramu Potarazu, COO of Intelsat.

Intelsat operates 25 satellites that provide telephony, corporate network, video and Internet connectivity to users in 200 countries.

For Boeing, the Intelsat pact comes just weeks after it signed a deal with Tokyo-based Space Communications Corp. to support Asia-to-Europe airline routes.

As part of the deal, SCC plans to establish and operate a satellite ground station north of Tokyo to provide a link between passengers using the service aboard commercial airliners and the ground network.

With the two recent deal, Connexion will now have coverage over the United States, the North Atlantic, Europe and the routes between Europe and Asia.



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