Boeing, StarHub to explore in-flight broadband roaming

IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

The Boeing Co.'s Connexion by Boeing (CBB) unit and Singaporean telecommunications operator StarHub Pte. Ltd. have signed an initial agreement to let StarHub users access in-flight Internet services offered by CBB and have charges billed to their StarHub account, the companies said Thursday.

Under the memorandum of understanding the two companies will explore linking their networks and having StarHub become an associate service provider for the CBB service. Users will then be able to access the service using their StarHub identification and password.

CBB, which is expected to enter commercial service later this month with German airline Lufthansa AG, provides a 20M bps (bits per second) broadband satellite Internet connection to equipped aircraft. Around half of the bandwidth is set aside for passenger Internet access.

The service will be sold directly by Boeing to end-users and flat-rate pricing -- at either US$19.95 for flights of between three and six hours or $29.95 for flights of six hours or more -- or metered pricing, at $9.95 for 30 minutes and $0.20 subsequent minute, will be offered.

In addition to Lufthansa, several other airlines have signed agreements to have the system installed. They include Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd., Scandinavian Airline Systems and Japan Airlines System Corp. A number of other airlines have signed letters of intent to use Connexion by Boeing including British Airways PLC, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Taiwan's China Airlines Ltd.

StarHub has been aggressively expanding the areas in which its users can access broadband Internet services via roaming agreements.

The company is one of five founders of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, which also includes Korea Telecom Corp., China Netcom Communications Group Corp., Maxis Communications Bhd. of Malaysia and Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd. Two European carriers, British Telecommunications PLC and T-Mobile International AG, subsequently joined the group.

StarHub is also a member of a broadband roaming project that is being run by Intel Corp. and Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority. The project concerns connection and internetworking between fixed and wireless networks and other members include Singapore's other two main carriers, MobileOne Ltd. and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., as well as China Mobile Communications Corp. and Pacific Century Cyberworks Ltd. in Hong Kong.

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