Scandinavian Airlines to add broadband service

By John Blau

IDG News Service

Connexion by Boeing, the wireless Internet system designed by The Boeing Co. to provide passengers with in-flight communication service, has climbed aboard another airline.

After successfully testing Boeing’s wireless LAN (WLAN) system, Scandinavian Airlines System AB (SAS) has agreed to equip 11 of its long-haul aircraft with the technology, beginning in 2004 on routes still to be determined, the airline said Wednesday in a statement.

The deal with SAS follows a larger one with Lufthansa AG, which earlier this year completed a successful trial of the service on its Frankfurt to Washington route. In May, Lufthansa agreed to roll out mobile broadband across its entire fleet of 80 long-haul aircraft, starting in early 2004.

British Airways PLC (BA) and Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) have also tested the technology.

The Nordic region, SAS Product Manager Jens Willumsen said in the statement, is one of the world’s most IT-dense areas and the ability to communicate in the air was high on the airline passengers’ list of priorities.

The in-flight broadband service will offer speeds up to 20Mbps to the aircraft and 1Mbps from the aircraft, although the speeds can vary due to weather and other factors, according to a Connexion spokesman.

A key for the two-way broadband communications service is a receive and transmit antenna developed by Boeing, according to the aircraft builder’s Web site. It steers beams electronically, permitting instantaneous connections between satellites and the servers and routing systems inside jets.

Passengers will be able to connect either by plugging their notebook computers into Ethernet jacks mounted in the seats or connecting via WLAN cards.

Boeing has yet to disclose prices for the new service.