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Thursday, February 19, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.



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Stephen Dunphy / Times staff columnist
The Newsletter: Countdown to in-flight broadband


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Connexion by Boeing will begin in-flight broadband Internet service within the next 45 days on a Lufthansa flight to Japan, marking what is expected to be an intense battle for the market to provide passengers with in-flight e-mail.

Scott Carson, president, told the monthly dean's breakfast at the University of Washington Business School that Connexion has 18 "campaigns" under way with potential airline customers around the world. The company has six firm customers, including Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines, both considered trendsetters in international markets. Carson said the business also is moving into maritime and business-jet services.

The Lufthansa flight will be the first commercial use of the service, which incorporates satellite technology to provide a broadband in-flight service. Passengers will pay a flat fee for the service per flight, reportedly between $16 and $23.

Carson said Connexion's service is different from existing services because it is a broadband connection, meaning it can handle big files, and because it can be linked to other information applications on an aircraft. For example, flight-data recorders could be downloaded in flight, providing airlines with advance warning of repairs needed on arrival.

Several low-cost airlines are looking at Connexion, Carson said, because if "they can trim turn times from 28 minutes to 26 minutes, it is worth it."

The big competitor for Connexion is JetConnect, already in use by United Airlines.

It is made by privately held Tenzing, which was founded in 1998 in Australia but moved to Seattle in 1999. In June 2001, Airbus bought a 30 percent stake for about $44 million; its equity share has since increased by an undisclosed amount.

Tenzing's service offers e-mail and text messaging at a rate equivalent to a slow dial-up service. The company recently added a wireless system, to be used by Emirates Airline of Dubai.

United's service will use the Verizon seat-back phones with passengers plugging in to the phone's data jack.

E-mail service will cost $16 per flight, with an extra dime per kilobyte of data sent beyond an initial 2 kilobytes, making handling large files expensive.

Broadband Internet dominates and wireless Internet growth explodes. That's the headline on new U.S. data on Internet use from Ipsos-Insight, a New York marketing-research firm.
 
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Its annual "Face of the Web" study showed dial-up service still used by many. In the United States, broadband is catching up, with 47 percent logging on through some form of high-speed connection, the study showed.

Wireless is booming, growing 145 percent in 2003, but that growth is from a relatively small base.

Chinese New Year is a great celebration, but it can hurt companies trying to do business in Asia. January data from the Port of Los Angeles show what happens when Asian firms typically shut down for up to a week. The holiday was in January this year, February last year, but both months usually are affected.

The number of loaded import containers was up by 28.8 percent over January 2003, but the number of loaded export containers declined by 8 percent. For the month, the total number of containers — import, export and empties — was up 18.8 percent to 616,087 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs, the industry's standard measurement.

Stephen H. Dunphy's phone: 206-464-2365. Fax: 206-382-8879. E-mail: sdunphy@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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