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More flights hit the super highway

Scandinavian Airlines to add broadband service

Connexion, the wireless internet system designed by Boeing to provide passengers with in-flight communication services, has climbed aboard another airline.

After successfully testing Boeing's wireless LAN (WLAN) system, Scandinavian airline SAS has agreed to equip 11 of its long-haul aircraft with the technology, beginning in 2004 on routes still to be determined, the airline said today.

The deal with SAS follows a larger one with Lufthansa, which earlier this year completed a successful trial of the service on its Frankfurt to Washington route. In May, Lufthansa agreed to roll out mobile broadband across its entire fleet of 80 long-haul aircraft, starting in early 2004.

British Airways (BA) and Japan Airlines have also tested the technology.

The Nordic region, said SAS Product Manager Jens Willumsen, is one of the world's most IT-dense areas and the ability to communicate in the air was high on airline passengers' list of priorities.

The in-flight broadband service will offer speeds up to 20Mbps (megabits per second) to the aircraft and 1Mbps from the aircraft, although the speeds can vary due to weather and other factors, according to a Connexion spokesman.

A key for the two-way broadband service is a 'receive and transmit' antenna developed by Boeing, according to the aircraft builder's website. It steers beams electronically, permitting instantaneous connections between satellites and the servers and routing systems inside jets.

Passengers will be able to connect either by plugging their notebook computers into ethernet jacks mounted in the seats or logging on via WLAN cards.

Boeing has yet to disclose prices for the new service.

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