After a lot of speculation over the past couple weeks, Lufthansa has made it official: they’re bringing in-flight internet connectivity back to their long-haul fleet. And this isn’t just the old Connexion service pressed back into service. It is going to be bigger and better than that.
The new service will offer a 1 megabit internet connection to be shared by the passengers (slower than that provided by Aircell’s gogo service). It will also provide access to GSM/GRPS data streams, facilitating SMS and MMS messaging as well as internet browsing on mobile phones. From the announcement:
FlyNet is impressively user-friendly. Passengers with a WLAN or GSM/GPRS-compatible device can log on from any point in the aircraft cabin, just like at any public hotspot. Depending on the device they are using (i.e. a laptop, mobile phone or a smart phone), passengers can choose to be billed via a mobile service provider or pay by credit card. Various different price models are planned – ranging from a rate by the hour to a monthly flat rate. Passengers should also be able to redeem Miles & More award miles for the use of WLAN Internet connections. The exact price for specific products will be announced at a later date. The service will gradually become available on all Lufthansa’s long-haul flights worldwide.
So it’ll be the middle of next year before it is readily available, but the service is definitely coming. Now it just remains to be seen if they can offer it at a price point that allows it to survive. The terrestrial services seem to be suffering there and it isn’t clear that the satellite services are going to fare any better. But we can hope.
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