Boeing Eyes In-Flight Live TV

Boeing is planning to add live television to its Connexion by Boeing service during 2005, a company executive says.

The television programs will be delivered across the Connexion network, which uses satellites to provide high-speed data connections between aircraft in-flight and ground stations linked to the Internet. The service entered commercial use earlier this year and provides a 5 megabits per second shared downstream and 1 mbps shared upstream connection to suitably equipped aircraft.

"That'll begin in the middle of next year, covering our international route segments," says Stan Deal, vice president of commercial airlines at Boeing's Connexion unit. "You'll be able to view up to four channels of live TV over your laptop."

Boeing hasn't announced the names of the channels that will be available but they'll be international news and financial news channels, he says.

"Longer term we'll look at some of the live sporting content, probably in the 2006 time frame," he says.

The TV service will be launched first with Singapore Airlines and then rolled out to Connexion's other airline partners, Deal says. Singapore Airlines plans to begin offering Internet access via the service on its Singapore to London route from the first quarter of 2005.

Taking Off

The Connexion by Boeing service went into commercial use in May when Lufthansa began offering the service on flights between Europe and the U.S. The German airline currently offers service on flights between Frankfurt and Denver and on those between Munich and Charlotte, North Carolina; Los Angeles; Tehran, Iran; and Tokyo. It was launched by Japan's All Nippon Airways on flights between Tokyo and Shanghai in November.

December has seen the service launch on Japan Airlines flights between Tokyo and London and on Lufthansa flights between Munich and both Miami and San Francisco. Scandinavian Airline Systems has also launched the service and will initially offer it on flights between Copenhagen and Seattle.

The launch of Connexion has increased interest in the service from other airlines, says Deal. A group of airlines have been waiting to see the service launch and passenger reaction before signing for the service.

"Having Lufthansa out and running and then ANA, JAL, and SAS, I think that'll allow that next group to feel like risk is being collapsed," Deal says. "You'll see some announcements shortly with regard to additional airlines."

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