Singapore Airlines has announced that it will soon provide in-flight mobile phone and Internet access for its passengers, thanks to a multimillion dollar collaboration with OnAir.
The service, which is set to be rolled out next year on the airline's Airbus A380, Airbus A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, will enable passengers to send and receive SMS text messages and make and receive voice calls. Internet access will also be provided. The service will work with GSM, smartphones and BlackBerry devices.
The GSM technology is connected to an antenna onboard the aircraft which sends the calls and data at broadband speeds, via an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite link, to the ground while the plane is in-flight. Connectivity is switched on once the plane has reached cruising altitude and switches off as the plane prepares to land.
Singapore Airlines' senior vice-president of product and services, Yap Kim Wah, said the venture will be made available for all passengers aboard equipped aircraft. "With the increasing importance of remaining connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircrafts with the full suite of telephony and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected,” he said. "Travelling on business or pleasure, [passengers] are just a click or an SMS away, with access to live information, social networking and news updates, as well as in-flight shopping." Singapore Airlines plans to equip 43 of its 105 aircraft with the OnAir system.
Passengers who use the mobile telephony service will be charged GSM international roaming rates, while internet charges will be announced closer to the 2011 launch. For passengers who wish to use the Internet mid-flight, an access package is available once they have logged in to the system using their credit card.