As part of an Asian demonstration tour to promote its Connexion by Boeing data transfer facility, Boeing intends to brief executives from China Southern and Air China over the next two days on its high-speed, in-flight Internet service.

Connexion by Boeing is a rival to the inflight email service provided by Tenzing Communications, whose investors include Cathay Pacific Airways and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Boeing's special promotional aircraft, a Boeing 737-400, will visit Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, with the service being shown to China Southern, Air China and the China National Aviation Corporation. The aircraft will then fly to Seoul and Tokyo before returning to the US. Japan Airlines has already signed a customer agreement, while rival Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airlines, together with Singapore Airlines have signed provisional agreements.

Connexion by Boeing already promoted the system to China Airlines in Taipei on Tuesday and the Taiwanese carrier inked a letter of intent in January to install the system on its long-haul fleet of Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Unlike the Tenzing system, Connexion by Boeing offers a high-speed Internet connection via laptops that allows passengers to send and receive email, streaming video and audio and unfiltered Web access including office email networks. At about US$30 (HK$235) for unlimited use on long-haul flights, the Boeing system is about 50% more expensive than Tenzing. While the Tenzing email service is installed using additional software or extra wiring to onboard communications systems, the Boeing equipment needs aircraft modifications including installation of an exterior antenna.


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