The Federal Communications Commission Thursday approved Boeing Co.s application to provide high-speed Net access service for air travelers.
The Connexion by Boeing service is designed to provide satellite-based high-speed Internet and intranet access, television and e-mail to airplanes traveling over U.S. territory and waters. Boeing also said the new service would provide airline operators with access to crew and aircraft data, and that the Connexion service is being studied for possible security applications.
"For the first time in history, air travelers will be able to experience real time, in-flight connectivity comparable to the speeds and quality of service they expect on the ground," said Scott Carson, president of Boeings Connexion division, in a prepared statement.
A prototype of the service is currently available to some executive and government airplanes.
Boeing said it expects to begin equipping Lufthansas long-haul fleet with a prototype as well in late 2002 or early 2003.
One month ago, three major American air carriers, American, Delta and United all backed out of their partnership to develop Connexion by Boeing, citing financial strains from reduced demand for air travel after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This is not the first Internet offering in the air. Seattles Tenzing Communications offers a slower form of Internet access on five non-American air carriers: Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, and Air Canada.
Airbus, Boeings main competitor in airplane manufacturing, owns a 30 percent stake in Tenzing.