China Airlines has become the latest Asian carrier to signal its intention to equip its aircraft with a broadband internet system supplied by Boeing.
The agreement with the Taiwanese airline initially calls for the Connexion by Boeing service to be installed on China Airlines' long-range aircraft by late 2004. Connectivity for flights between Taipei and certain routes to Europe and North America are also covered by the preliminary deal.
Connexion by Boeing offers a high-speed, satellite-delivered data service to aircraft. Connection speeds vary with conditions but can be as fast as 20Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream.
The downstream path is split into four channels of equal bandwidth of which typically one would be given over to passenger internet use. Another is used to deliver live television and entertainment content to aircraft en route.
Boeing will charge passengers to use the broadband internet service and said it expected it will cost between $15 and $17 for a medium-haul flight of about three hours to five hours and between $25 and $30 on a long-haul flight for more than seven hours of access. Wireless Lan or in-seat Ethernet sockets will be used to provide the connection to passenger's notebook computers or PDAs.
The airline joins Singapore Airlines and All Nippon Airways on the list of carriers which have signed letters of intent to install the system. Firm deals have been signed with Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airline Systems and Japan Airlines System.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service