Boeing says they’ve finished reviewing their Connexion inflight internet service, and they’ve decided to shutter the whole project.
In the short term, this is a bummer for customers of Lufthansa, SAS, ANA, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines because they will now be internet-less. Those were the only airlines that used the service.
In the long run, you’ll never remember this existed as airlines move toward a ground-based system instead. This will probably be easier and cheaper, so Boeing must have realized it wasn’t worth keeping Connexion going with no long term future.
Connexion is (er, was) a satellite-based system that is kind of clunky. It added extra weight to the plane and it was expensive. It obviously was expensive for Boeing to operate, because they’re willing to take over $300m in charges just to shut the thing down.
How does the ground-based system communicate with the planes to provide real-time internet access?
Well, the company that is doing this is called AirCell. You can check out a basic explanation here.
But, I thought using wireless devices on planes was dangerous. What gives? Will AirCell planes be equipped with different electronics than standard planes to shield them from the impacts of wireless devices? Or, is all the mumbo jumbo about interfering with navigation just a bunch of bull-crap?
All I know is they’ve done tests and they consider it to be safe for this purpose. Remember, they’re also working on ways to make cell phones work up there. Even though no US airlines have signed on, it’s starting to get some bites in Europe. They’re clearly saying cell phones are not going to crash an airplane.