New partner Panasonic provides most powerful on-board hotspot worldwide
From the middle of next year, Lufthansa's customers will once again enjoy the full freedom to communicate via the Internet above the clouds as the airline relaunches FlyNet, its on-board broadband Internet service. In addition, the new service will permit inflight data transfer over standard GSM/GPRS mobile networks. Thanks to FlyNet, Lufthansa passengers will not only have WLAN Internet access but will also be able to send SMS messages by mobile phone and transfer data via smartphones such as PDA, iPhone or BlackBerry devices. Together with its new business partner Panasonic, Lufthansa aims to equip a major part of its long-range fleet with FlyNet within the first year of operation.
With the relaunch of FlyNet, Lufthansa will again become the world leader in inflight connectivity. "In terms of communications, Lufthansa customers can look forward to a top-tier inflight service," said Lufthansa CEO and Chairman Wolfgang Mayrhuber. "On long-haul routes, we offer business travellers, in particular, a range of communications options on a par with those available at powerful hotspots or upmarket hotels." FlyNet thus completes the standardised communications product for Lufthansa passengers across the entire travel chain.
"We are thrilled to be working with Lufthansa as the launch customer for Panasonic's new broadband service, exConnect." said Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. "Lufthansa's previous experience with passenger connectivity makes them the ideal launch customer for the eXConnect service. Lufthansa was a true pioneer with their FlyNet branded service. We are proud to bring FlyNet back to their passengers."
Lufthansa is deliberately focusing on high band-width as the main requirement for the unrestricted use of such services as web surfing, email/file transfer including attachments and the Virtual Private Network (VPN). In addition, only wide band-width will enable potential future operational applications such as telemedicine for the transmission of a patient's vital parameters to a ground station.
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. laptop, mobile phone or smart phone), passengers can choose to be billed via the 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 long-haul flights worldwide.
With this new project, Lufthansa is building on its positive experience with Lufthansa FlyNet. As long ago as 15 January 2003, the world's first scheduled flight providing broadband Internet access on board took off. Between May 2004 until the end of 2006, when the service was withdrawn by Lufthansa's then partner, Connexion by Boeing, broadband Internet connectivity via WLAN gained in popularity and the technology proved highly reliable. Subsequently, 69 of Lufthansa's long-range aircraft were equipped with FlyNet, making the Lufthansa fleet the largest Internet-enabled fleet in the world, with about 30,000 users per month.