RealTime IT News

Tenzing Delivering In-flight Internet to Airlines

Tenzing Communications is partnering with Airbus and Rockwell Collins to launch a new high-speed radio service that will provide live Internet connections for airline passengers.

Tenzing's technology utilizes current antenna technology, and because it provides the ability to send and receive e-mail while in the air, it is a competitor to Connexion, Boeing's in-flight Internet offering. Tenzing says its service will cost much less than Connexion. Tenzing estimates it will charge passenger close to $10 per flight, Connexion says it expects to charge customers $25-$35 per flight. Tenzing says it will be able to offer access to corporate Virtual Private Networks and live Web browsing.

Tenzing said it has completed the first full-scale test of inflight Internet access with Airbus using the INMARSAT Swift 64 service over a standard high-gain L-band SATCOM antenna. The system brings together hardware and software from Tenzing, Airbus and Rockwell Collins.

Tenzing says more than 1,800 aircraft worldwide already have SATCOM antenna equipment on them, so there are no extra equipment costs for the airlines. The system combines the Airbus Inflight Information System (AFIS) works with Rockwell Collins high-speed data solution with Tenzing's passenger messaging service with the existing L-band SATCOM infrastructure.

Tenzing says in-flight Internet connectivity was able to transmit messages at 64 kbps using Rockwell Collins' SAT-906 SATCOM system and HST-900 high-speed data transceiver.

Cathay Pacific Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways are currently testing the technology. Airbus SAS and Cathay Pacific's Taikoo Aviation Technologies are investors in Tenzing. Rockwell Collins invested $10 million in Tenzing last year.

After September 11th, Tenzing backed away from its plans to offer inflight Internet service and had to go back to the block attempting to drump up financing. In a difficult environment, it closed a round in December 2002, and with this announcement will be rehiring workers and start marketing its in-flight Internet system.