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BT, Excite to Develop In Flight Internet Gateway

BT announced Wednesday that it will develop its In Flight Internet Gateway in association with Excite UK, one of the top Internet portals in the UK.

The new service will allow airline passengers to access the Internet via Excite, using either BTs IP-enhanced Skyphone or its ALIS communications and entertainment platform. Satellite access will give users a 64kbps link for browsing the Web, although frequently-used content will be cached on-board the aircraft.

"We are bringing full high-speed Internet access to passengers in flight," said Alam Gill, head of BT Aeronautical. "In developing an end-to-end IP solution, we have formed partnerships with the best players in the industry."

"Excite is a recognised leader in the delivery of Internet content. As our partner they will bring one of the vital pieces of this complex jigsaw puzzle allowing us to offer a robust, secure portal of customer specific content with the ability to carry out on-line transactions."

Nineteen of the worlds leading airlines use BT Skyphone, while BT's ALIS service delivers in-flight entertainment, information and communication via satellite, mainly on airlines running long-haul flights. They include Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Malaysia Airlines and Lauda Air.

BT expects to introduce an IP-enhanced version of ALIS within 12 months. It will bring full access to the Internet right to the passenger seat.