The Boeing Co. Thursday revealed plans to develop
a global communications network that will
provide air travelers with an array of high-speed data communication
services via a space-based network.
Commercial airline passengers soon will be able to access the Internet,
e-mail, television, news and information in real-time at 40,000 feet,
using the network, dubbed Connexion by Boeing. Intended to extend home- and office-like
connectivity into the skies, the Boeing (BA) mobile broadband service is expected to have a price comparable to
cellular phone service. Other applications for the communications system
will include corporate and private business jets, U.S. government platform
and aircraft health monitoring.
Digital broadband capability, which provides increased bandwidth for
two-way interactive applications, will allow customers to send and receive
data at rates equivalent to cable Internet access. Boeing will use advanced
antenna technology and existing satellites, while extending to a mix of new
and existing satellites as the service matures.
To date, Boeing has signed memoranda of agreement with CNN Inflight
Services, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Alenia Spazio, Loral Skynet Matsushita
Avionics Systems Corp. and CNBC. The company has ongoing negotiations with
prospective airline partners, and additional content and service suppliers.
The introduction of the service follows the pending acquisition of Hughes Space & Communications and
signals the move by Boeing into commercial, space-based communications
markets. Boeing is regarded as a leader in the aerospace industry; its
capabilities include the manufacture of commercial jetliners, military
rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch
vehicles and advanced information and communication systems.
“Clearly, this is an exciting growth market,” said Jim Albaugh, president
of Boeing Space and Communications Group.
“Commercial information and
communications are areas where we understand the customer, where we bring
unique solutions no one else has the capabilities or resources to provide,
and where we can apply our knowledge of large-scale systems integration to
provide mobile users seamless connectivity.”