International Airlines Embrace In-Flight Internet

European and Asian airlines are using Boeing's Connexion high-speed service.
While financially strapped U.S. airlines are proving slow to adopt in-flight Internet connectivity, international carriers are adopting the technology in growing numbers.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday introduced Boeing's Connexion high-speed Web access on selected flights out of Copenhagen, with plans to equip its entire long-haul fleet by February. Also on Tuesday, Deutsche Lufthansa AG--one of the most aggressive early adopters of in-flight connectivity--added Connexion to its Munich-Miami and Munich-San Francisco routes. Three days earlier, Japan Airlines introduced the service on its flights between Tokyo and London. All Nippon Airways flights also offer the service.

The Connexion by Boeing service, launched in May, relies on satellite signals, on-board servers, Ethernet local area networks, and/or 802.11b wireless networks to let passengers connect. The service offers full Web access and VPN support for connecting to corporate E-mail systems. Stan Deal, Boeing's VP of Connexion, says television service will be available next year. Other commercial airlines that have signed agreements to use the service include Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Korean Air, and Singapore Airlines.

In the U.S., only a few carriers offer limited Internet access. Continental Airlines, United Airlines, and U.S. Airways offer access to Web-based E-mail, instant messaging, and packaged Web content for a small fee via the Verizon Airfone JetConnect service, which uses E-mail software from Tenzing. JetBlue Airways offers in-seat TV service from satellite provider DirecTV.

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