Connexion in-flight Internet adds Atlantic coverage

The Boeing Co. is to lease space on a satellite above the Atlantic Ocean, filling a further coverage gap in its Connexion by Boeing in-flight Internet service.

The new leasing agreement is for two transponders on the Intelsat 907 satellite, which is stationed above the Atlantic Ocean at 27.5 degrees west, the company said in a statement. The Ku-band spot-beam coverage provided by the transponders encompasses northern and Central Europe, Iceland and the eastern part of Greenland and will be used by Connexion to service aircraft flying between Europe and North America.

The Connexion service, which has yet to be commercially launched, offers a broadband Internet connection to passengers on aircraft on which the system has been installed. Transmission speeds vary with conditions but maximum capacity is 20M bps (bits per second) downstream to the aircraft and 1M bps upstream from the aircraft.

To date, two European airlines, Lufthansa AG and British Airways PLC, have run service trials and both Lufthansa and Scandinavian Airline Systems have signed definitive agreements to install the system on long-haul jets. Commercial service on both airlines is scheduled to begin in early 2004. Two Japanese airlines, All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. (ANA) and Japan Airlines System Corp. (JAL), have signed letters of intent to install the system. Boeing has yet to announce definitive agreements with British Airways, JAL or ANA.

The lease of transponders on Intelsat 907 comes shortly after Boeing signed for space on Eutelsat's SESAT satellite at 36 degrees east, which will provide coverage over Europe, and Space Communications Corp.'s Superbird-C satellite at 144 degrees East, which will provide coverage of Asia and routes from Asia to Europe.

The latest announcement means the Connexion by Boeing network now covers many of the major intercontinental airline routes in the northern hemisphere.

In addition to adding coverage of other regions in the future, the system will also be enhanced with the addition of backup capacity, said Terrance Scott, a spokesman for Boeing. Next year the service plans to make use of space on Loral's Estrela do Sul spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in early 2004, Scott said.

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