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Web reaches for the skies

Boeing gains European support for mobile internet service

High-speed internet in the skies should be coming to aircraft soon as Boeing's Connexion mobile information service wins support from several European regulatory bodies. Authorities in Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands, have all given permission for the service to use the vital Ku-band radio frequencies it needs to operate.

The authorisations allow Boeing to go ahead with service demonstrations onboard Lufthansa and BA flights from early next year. The carriers will offer three-month trials of the broadband internet service in January and February respectively.

The Boeing Connexion service will allow passengers to choose from a range of real-time, personalised services including high-speed internet access, intranet and email services, e-commerce, shopping, entertainment and travel, and destination information. The service will be offered on transatlantic flights between Europe and North America.

In order to win the support of the regulatory bodies, Boeing has been testing the service on a dedicated Boeing 737 aircraft to prove that the service can operate within its allocated spectrum without causing radio interference. The company has also worked with members of the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to gain global spectrum allocation.

This is not the only effort Boeing has made to bring the internet to air travellers, as it is also working with Japan Airlines to offer customers broadband access on flights between Japan and Europe by 2004.

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