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Singapore Airlines plans in-flight live TV via Wi-Fi

Wireless Net access goes live Q1 05

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Singapore Airlines will add in-flight Wi-Fi to its Singapore-London route during Q1 2005, the first step in the carrier's plan to bring live TV to passengers by the middle of next year.

The airborne WLAN comes courtesy of Boeing's Connexion service, which will begin fitting SA's fleet with access points during 2005 to "selected flights worldwide", the airline said.

SA announced its plan to implement Connexion back in November 2003, which shows you how long it can take to set up a maintenance schedule that permits aircraft to be pulled out of service for sufficient duration to install the WLAN kit and get it certified by the appropriate flight safety organisations.

SA previously said it would begin adding Connexion to aircraft during Q3 2004, with a eye to launching commercial services "shortly thereafter".

Next year, that will finally happen. As a long-haul flight, the London to Singapore trip will see punters charged $30 for unlimited Internet access, or billed $10 for 30 minutes' access, with extra time rated at $0.25 a minute. A "minimal" extra charge may also be imposed by ISPs with Connexion roaming agreements - companies with such deals include Singapore's StarHub and SingTel, Japan's NTT (DoCoMo and Communications), InfoNet, and T-Systems.

The SA deal follows All Nippon Airways' (ANA) roll out this year of Wi-Fi on its Tokyo-Shanghai run, and the extension of Lufthansa's initial Munich-Los Angeles trip with Frankfurt-Denver, Munich-Charlotte, Munich-Tehran, Munich-San Francisco and Munich-Tokyo.

According to Connexion VP Stan Deal, interviewed by Wi-Fi Networking News, Lufthansa will this month add Munich-Miami to the WLAN route-list. Japan Airlines (JAL) will begin offering the service on its London-Tokyo run this month. December will also see Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) offer Wi-Fi on a number of Copenhagen-based flights.

Connexion has already announced plans to offer Wi-Fi on Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and China Airlines flights. However, Deal said two further carriers have signed up - formal announcements will follow in due course.

To date, early Connexion trialist, British Airways, has not said it will follow up its experiments with a commercial roll out. ®

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