Connexion is a broadband telecommunications service from Boeing that offers real-time, high-speed, two-way connectivity for commercial airlines, private business jets and US government customers worldwide.
In March 2002 Lufthansa Airlines began installing the first Connexion antenna on a 747-400 for use in a three-month trial in late-2002. Lufthansa is one of 17 airlines working with Boeing on a new Connexion service.
Passengers will be able to access the following:
- Check-in for ongoing flights, plus the ability to print out boarding passes
- Carrier information (e.g. travel planning, travel support and frequent flier mileage)
- E-commerce (e.g. shopping and duty free)
- News and information
- Live television
- Flight facts (e.g. airport maps, flight maps and gate information)
- Company intranet
- Destination information (e.g. plan itinerary, check the weather and make dinner reservations)
It differs from existing in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems by providing a high-value, two-way-live data and live television service to highly mobile users, who are travelling at up to 40,000 feet and at 500 miles per hour.
THE POTENTIAL MARKET
Anticipated revenues for the service have not been made public. However, industry experts anticipate the market for Connexion to be worth $70bn over the next ten years.
Customers subscribe to Connexion and can access the system via their laptops from any seat in the aircraft. Corporate accounts can be set up for businesses, while private travellers are billed directly to their credit cards. Initially the aim is to make the services available to those airlines that transport some three million passengers travelling on 42,300 flights per day on Boeing built aircraft, before extending this to all aircraft.
Connexion will provide two-way broadband data services to passengers and crew at 5Mbps (megabits per second) receive and 1.5Mbps transmit, with this expanded over time as technologies are improved.
The infrastructure consists of an airborne system, a ground system and a space system. The airborne system includes airborne antennae, servers, routers and associated wiring. The ground system consists of a network operations centre, associated satellite uplink and downlink equipment, and a business operation centre. Finally the space system includes leased satellite transponders.
The average weight for supporting antenna electronics and network connections to the seat is approximately 800lbs for a single-aisle aircraft and 1,200lbs for a twin-aisle aircraft. The average power requirement is 1kW.
PARTNERS AND SERVICE SUPPLIERS
Boeing has signed a memorandum of agreement with a number of service providers including CNN Inflight Services; Mitsubishi Electric Corp.; Alenia Spazio, a Finmeccanica Company; Loral Skynet; Matsushita Avionics Systems Corp. and CNBC.
Boeing is the largest aerospace company in the world, producing commercial jetliners, military aircraft, rotorcraft, electronic and defence systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch vehicles, and advanced information and communication systems. Manufacturing operations are spread across the US, Canada and Australia and the company has customers in 145 countries.