BA the latest to test Internet-in-the-sky

British Airways (BA) has become the second European airline after Lufthansa to agree to test a high-speed Internet service for...

British Airways (BA) has become the second European airline after Lufthansa to agree to test a high-speed Internet service for aircraft supplied by Boeing.

BA will test the Internet-in-the-sky technology, called Connexion by Boeing, for a period of three months beginning in February 2003, Boeing said.

The service uses satellites positioned 35,000km high to send and receive data from transceivers mounted on airplanes travelling at 900km per hour.

The in-flight broadband technology will allow travellers to use their notebooks to surf the Web, send e-mail or even view live TV broadcasts.

Lufthansa, which agreed to test the in-flight Internet technology, plans a "live trial" in January 2003, a company spokesman said.

"We have, meanwhile, equipped a 747 airplane, named Sachsen-Anhalt, with the satellite transceiver and other gear and are now waiting for Boeing to provide seamless satellite coverage across the Atlantic," the spokesman said. "At present, the company can't offer us this."

Initially, Lufthansa plans to offer in-flight Internet service on its Frankfurt-Washington route, the spokesman said.

Boeing is in talks with satellite operators to acquire transponder capacity and with radio frequency officials to receive licences for sending and receiving data over the airwaves, a spokesman for Boeing said.

"We expect to have the necessary satellite capacity and radio usage licences in the coming months," he added.

However, Connexion by Boeing has not had a smooth take-off. Aside from the delay in securing trans-Atlantic satellite capacity and radio licences, in November 2001 the service lost its first three airline partners.

The partners, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines withdrew their financial support, citing severe financial losses following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

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