Boeing, NTT DoCoMo eye Internet roaming deal

NTT DoCoMo Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with The Boeing Co. that is expected to lead to its wireless LAN customers being able to access Boeing in-flight Internet services through their NTT DoCoMo accounts.

Under the deal, specific terms of which are yet to be worked out, NTT DoCoMo customers will be able to use their current user name and password to access Connexion by Boeing Internet service. Charges for the service will later be billed by NTT DoCoMo.

The Connexion by Boeing service provides a 20M bps (bits per second) broadband satellite Internet connection to equipped aircraft. Around half of the bandwidth is set aside for shared passenger Internet access.

Boeing will sell the service directly to passengers and share revenue with the airlines. Roaming charges have not been announced but passengers buying the service directly from Boeing will have the option of 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.

The agreement is similar to one signed with Singapore's StarHub Pte. Ltd. earlier in the month.

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.

On Monday, Korean Air announced it had also signed a preliminary agreement to install the system on its long-haul aircraft beginning in 2005.

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