If you’ve craved the ability to surf the Web, check e-mail or transfer files while you’ve been in the air, take note: American, Delta and United Airlines today announced that they’ll be implementing two-way broadband Internet connectivity on their airplanes using technology developed by Connexion by Boeing.
The three airlines have signed a Letter of Intent to pursue data services for their commercial aircraft, in a service jointly owned by Boeing and the three airlines. The broadband service will be installed in a total of 1,500 aircraft between the three airlines.
The service initially provides 5 megabit per second receive and 1.5 megabit per second transmit speeds, according to Connexion by Boeing. Users will simply jack into a network connection in their seats using their laptop computer or LAN-based PDA. The bandwidth is expected to be expanded as time goes on, with new advancements in technology. The service will first be offered on flights within the contiguous United States, with service to “be rolled out internationally as the market matures.”
Connexion by Boeing utilizes satellite technology and a proprietary phased array antenna that steers its electronic signal, enabling users to transfer and receive data at high speeds as the aircraft itself is traveling 500 miles an hour or more at high altitudes. Various components of the service have been flying on private business jets and government planes for several years. And despite the name, the service is not limited simply to Boeing airframes. Connexion by Boeing noted that a prototype of its service has also been successfully installed in a private Airbus A340 jet. The A340 is a popular passenger jetliner used in medium and long-haul markets.
The ability to surf the Web quickly isn’t the only benefit that Connexion By Boeing brings to the table, either. Live, custom television channels are also part of the service, and the company claimed that airline operators will also be able to exchange airline and crew data that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, as well.
Connexion by Boeing is expected to begin rollout at the three major airlines in the second half of 2002.