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
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.