In-flight Internet Retooled After Slump

from the shifting-strategies dept

A popular topic at Techdirt recently has been the sudden hype surrounding “internet in the sky”. The News Tribune has a good profile of Boeing’s Connexion offering that seems to be losing out on deals to its rival Tenzing in the US domestic carrier market. The Connexion system seems superior in every way, however – from the full internet access (Tenzing gives you very limited internet access) to the flat rate fees. Connexion even says that the pricing is designed to be customer friendly – unlike their rivals. What has surprised me is that no US carrier, so far, has been willing to sign on with Connexion, and has instead, gone with Tenzing. The reason they’re going with Tenzing is they’re all looking for ways to save money – and Tenzing doesn’t charge them to set up the system. However, the Connexion system is so much more useful than Tenzing’s that it’s not hard to imagine a plane with Connexion getting much more revenue out of the system. Connexion does say they’re close to a deal with at least one US carrier, and suggests that it’s a “smaller, more technologically savvy” airline, rather than one of the big guys. My guess would be JetBlue, which keeps saying they’re going to offer internet in the sky, but hasn’t done much to offer it.


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Comments on “In-flight Internet Retooled After Slump”

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4 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Nature of the airline business

One has to keep in mind that in the airline business, units/parts/widgets are usually sold for almost no cost, then the manufacturer charges for repairs/replacements/upgrades.

So it is with in-flight computers: computers will wear out, become obsolete. During the process, Tenzing may change its business model to stay competitive, or airlines could threaten to drop them. Given that net access in the air is not yet a sure bet in terms of profit, legality, or the problems it will inevitably cause, low startup costs can seem attractive.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Except, that if no one uses the Tenzing system, and people are willing to use the Connexion system, that makes a difference.

OR (and this applies to me, and plenty of others) if people start making their flying decisions based on which airline offers Connexion, that will make a huge difference.

Already I pick hotels based on which ones have internet access. I’d do the same for airlines.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

while i understand choosing a hotel based on this, ie you’re going to be there at least 8 hours, this isn’t true of a plane. You may have an extended flight but for shorter flights, say less than two hours, are you really going to based your decision on internet access which you may have access to for an hour, assuming there’s no trubulence and they let you keep your note book out.

The airlines would have to outfit all/most of their planes to accomodate the service as the jets are rotated in and out of routes and destinations.

We American’s are cheap cheap CHEAP. Given something that moderately works (think netzero, Microsoft windows, Ford Escorts, VHS (vs beta)), in masses we’ll float to cheap/bigger/more … with emphasis on the cheap. Best technology seldom wins the battle these days.

So I’ll stick by the idea of offering a service that costs me as a provider, nothing to install, unless of course lots and lots of customers start demanding it AND it means I’m losing money.

Like so many, I’ll probably get on my two hour flight, read and book or something akin to that, and then wait til I get to my hotel room with the high speed internet connection to get some serious work done.

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