It’s really a shame if Boeing pulls the plug on their inflight internet service. Here’s where I think they made a significant error, the service is only available on long haul flights because conventional thinking is that only on a long duration flight would you pay the access fee and only when people are paying for the service do the carriers achieve a payback on the infrastructure. Where I think Boeing has also failed is in putting forward a system that is an expensive upgrade to the physical airplane and then trying to sell it to bankrupt U.S. carriers; what Boeing should have done is subsidized the cost of upgrading airplanes and looked at it as a loss leader expense much like cell phone companies do when they subsidize the cost of a handset.
Boeing should developed a tiered pricing system based on the duration or the flight and sold it heavily to airlines offering flights of 3-5 hours, which is dominated by business travelers who expense costs like this. Another opportunity would have been to do a deal with T-Mobile and tie it in to their pay-for-access wifi service. If I could buy internet time on a SFO to JFK flight and simply add it on to my T-Mobile account, done.
In a way I do hope that Boeing sells this service to a satellite company because maybe then it will become a service that is available more broadly than just on airplanes. I also think that GM’s OnStar group should look at this for the purposes of having a more extensive in-vehicle data service than what they currently use. Not only would OnStar benefit from having more consumer services, but the system-to-system vehicle services could be dramatic.
If a suitable deal could not be reached, Boeing would be prepared to shut Connexion down, even though the service works as advertised and is used by a handful of international airlines on long-haul flights, one of the sources said.
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