Customers flying between Japan and Europe on (JAL) Japan Airlines planes could soon be able to access their email and surf the net as they cruise at 35,000ft, thanks to an agreement with Boeing.
The airline is working with Boeing to provide satellite broadband access on its aircraft and aims to install the service on 10 long-haul planes initially, with more aircraft getting fitted out at a later date.
No launch date has been announced but a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business newspaper said JAL plans to introduce the service in 2004.
The service will offer up to 20Mbps (bits per second) downloads to the aircraft and 1Mbps uploads. These speeds are likely to vary considerably due to weather and other factors but, as a minimum, Boeing says customers should be able to access the internet at the same speed as a 56Kbps dialup modem.
JAL is the first Asian airline to sign up for the service. German airline Lufthansa is expected to be the first to roll out the service later this year and British Airways is due to launch onboard internet access next year.