|Boeing Aims Live TV At Airline Travelers|
Though not directly involving KVHI (at least not mentioned, and it will compete with DirecTV) it is significant in that it broadens awareness of mobile satellite reception - and at 500+ miles per hour.
Published: May 17, 2005
Filed at 0:19 a.m. ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co. (BA.N) unit Connexion said Tuesday it will provide about four live television channels to airline passengers using laptop computers on select flights in a bid to expand its in-flight wireless Internet service.
Connexion sets up so-called wireless hotspots in the sky by using satellites to deliver the Internet to planes and extending these links to passenger laptops via Wi-Fi, or short-range wireless links that work on most laptops.
It hopes to popularize this service, which currently works on certain flights for about 11 airlines, by adding live TV news from programmers such as the BBC World Service, CNBC, MSNBC, EuroNews and Eurosportnews at no extra charge.
``We believe, based on our business case, we'll see an increase in use of our service that will make up for the additional cost over the life of the contracts,'' said Connexion's vice president of marketing David Friedman, referring to multi-year programming contracts.
The move pits Connexion against companies such as U.S. satellite TV provider DirecTV Group Inc (DTV.N), which delivers multiple live TV channels to customers on U.S. airline JetBlue (JBLU.O). But Friedman said Connexion will be first to offer live TV on intercontinental flights.
Connexion expects to become profitable by 2008 but has not disclosed how many people use its wireless Internet service. About 20 percent of its customers have used the service more than once, according to Friedman.
The company is talking with airlines and manufacturers about delivering its services to the TV screens that are already built into many airplane seats in a bid to expand beyond laptop-toting business travelers, Friedman said.
It also hopes to support consumer use of mobile phones for phone calls and Internet access on planes. But it is not clear whether regulators around the world will lift long-standing bans that outlaw mobile phone use on planes.
Friedman said he hoped to be able to offer the service by the middle of 2006.
Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) will be first to offer the TV service in the next few months and Connexion hopes to expand TV to the rest of its airline partners over the next year or so. Its other customers include Germany's Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and Japan Airlines (9205.T).
Connexion has yet to link up with U.S. air operators, many of which have been plagued by financial troubles.