Panasonic Avionics to reintroduce broadband on aeroplanes
In-flight entertainment system specialist Panasonic Avionics has signed an agreement with satellite operator Intelsat to use the GlobalConnexSM broadband service for future internet services on board Aircraft. With eXconnect, beginning in 2009, Panasonic aims at marketing a global internet service allowing passengers to surf at DSL speed during their flights.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing started a similar project in 2000. However, "Connexion by Boeing" was cancelled with a write-off of several hundred million dollars at the end of 2006 because it didn't attract enough paying customers. To prevent Panasonic Avionics from suffering the same fate, the service will only start once a sufficient number of contracts with carriers ensures that the investment is covered.
Among potential customers is Deutsche Lufthansa, which was among the first to sign up for Boeing's satellite internet service. Instead of implementing the EU commission's recent approval of in-flight mobile telephone calls, the carrier intends to reintroduce fast internet connections on its long haul flights in the near future. The necessary transmission technology is still in place in 69 of Lufthansa's planes.