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Surfing in the Sky

Boot Camp feature for Monday, January 27, 2003

Surfing in the sky. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. You're sitting on a plane, have read all of the magazines, already seen the movie. Now what? Boeing is hoping passengers will want to surf the Web and check email. Connexion by Boeing has launched a three month trial of its new high speed Internet service with Lufthansa on certain flights between Washington D.C. and Frankfurt. Connexion President Scott Carson...

"Lufthansa has co-branded with us calling their portal page which is the initial access page FlyNet. You come through FlyNet, click on your Internet connectivity and you're into the connection system and into the Internet." And what is there, an Ethernet port at the seat? "Ethernet port at the seat. There's also four wireless access points in the aircraft."

The high speed service is free during the trial... but the expectation is passengers will eventually pay 30 to 35 dollars for unlimited access during long flights. Japan Airlines will join the trial soon and eventually... U.S. carriers will be added...

"We had frankly hoped to launch domestically and then move overseas. With the airline situation post September 11th, it became increasingly clear that the market was first strongest overseas. So we have actually done the global deployment and will move back into the domestic marketplace as the health of the U.S. airlines improves."

Will it fly? Carson says a full third of passengers logged on during the initial test flight... and the business will be successful if the service attracts fifteen percent. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin