Business travelers could find in-flight Internet waning

Published reports Thursday indicate Boeing may soon dump its in-flight Internet venture Connexion because the service hasn't generated a profit in six years.

Citing people familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Boeing has inquired with a number of commercial-satellite operators and other potential suitors who might be interested in buying the business or becoming a major partner.

If Boeing can't find a suitable buyer or partner, the services could end. Connexion enables passengers to have high-speed Internet hookups, via satellite, in-flight at a cost of US$10 to US$27.

In the WSJ story, Boeing said it was evaluating the long-term business model for Connexion to assess what's best for both the business and its customers. "The system's performing well, we know we have a useful product, but we're trying to determine how good a business we have."

Published reports say the business, or lack thereof, is largely due to disinterest from U.S. airlines in outfitting their fleets with the system. International carriers including Lufthansa, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines offer the service.

The Boeing news comes on the heels of news earlier this month that Verizon Airfone dropped out of the bidding for wireless airwaves that would have enabled it to provide wireless broadband service on airplanes. Airfone uses narrowband phones in seatbacks. The voice-only service also has not been widely used.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently sold licenses for 4 MHz of the 800-MHz spectrum that Verizon now uses for its Airfone. The 4 MHz of spectrum is intended as an air-to-ground "backhaul" for wireless services accessed by multiple devices on a plane. Those services could include broadband Internet access and other data services as well as voice, the agency said last year.

From that bidding however may arise a new service powerhouse: JetBlue.

LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue, made the winning US$7 million bid for 1 MHz of the spectrum. LiveTV provides live satellite TV and XM Satellite Radio channels on about 300 aircraft used by JetBlue and other airlines. The company bid for the spectrum with an eye to offering unspecified future services.

Of course all of this wrangling may in some cases be moot should the FCC allow flyers to use cell phones. There are indications the rules banning such call could be relaxed by early 2007.

The IDG News Service contributed to this report.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Michael Cooney

Michael Cooney

Network World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?