Connexion launching live TV service

Connexion by Boeing will shortly start live TV services for airline passengers, starting with some Singapore Airlines flights.

The Connexion by Boeing in-flight Internet service is to shortly begin live TV programming on some Singapore Airlines flights. This is the first time such a service will be available to commercial airline passengers, according to an announcement by Connexion by Boeing on Tuesday.

The service will deliver BBC World, EuroNews, Eurosportnews, and, depending on flight origination, U.S., European or Asian editions of CNBC, to suitably equipped planes and passengers with laptop PCs who have signed up for the Connexion service, according to the announcement.

MSNBC programming will also be available for domestic flights in the U.S., Boeing said.

The TV service will be expanded to other airlines later this year, the company said, without giving further details.

Singapore Airlines plans to add TV programming to its Connexion service from June, it said earlier this year. The latest announcement is the first time Boeing has revealed the programming for Connexion's TV services.

Connexion by Boeing uses satellites to provide high-speed data connections between aircraft and ground stations linked to the Internet. The connection speed is typically about 5M bps (megabits per second) downstream from the Internet to the aircraft and 1M bps upstream from the aircraft to the Internet. So far the service has allowed access to e-mail, Web browsing, and corporate networks via a VPN (virtual private network), among other features.

Pricing for the Internet service includes set rates for short, medium and long-haul flights, and for metered access. For example, the service costs US$29.95 for the duration of a long-haul flight, or US$9.95 for the first 30 minutes and US$0.25 for each additional minute.

Boeing did not say if there would be a premium for the TV service.

The announcement comes a year after Connexion by Boeing went into commercial use when Lufthansa began offering the service on flights between Europe and the U.S. The airline later extended the service to other international routes.

Connexion by Boeing has signed agreements with 11 airlines and has equipped more than 60 planes to provide the service on more than 100 routes daily, it said.

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