Boeing's Connexion announcement

Rodney Joffe rjoffe at
Sat Oct 14 16:18:31 UTC 2006

On Oct 14, 2006, at 4:16 AM, Robert E.Seastrom wrote:

> Fascinating...  of course, you can see where the confusion came from,
> particularly given the source of some of the components and the fact
> that they're not actually committed until they get the orders (hence,
> no satellite capacity online _today_).  Thanks for the additional
> data; I'm sure everyone here will be watching this one closely; the
> "email/web/irc/AIM from the skies" imperative runs quite high in our
> community ;-)
>                                         ---rob
> Fearghas McKay <fm-lists at> writes:
>> At 17:39 -0400 13/10/06, Robert E.Seastrom wrote:
>>> As I understand it, Panasonic's product is different, cheaper,  
>>> and not
>>> a turnkey service (they don't have their own satellite transponder
>>> constellation).  It is aimed at nation-states, not the commercial
>>> market.

As a result of this thread, I went digging for people to talk to, and  
have learned quite a bit:

It costs around $500k to equip a plane.
Every piece has to be type certified for each plane (ethernet wire  
and connectors, circuit boards to not be toxic when they catch fire,  
The bulk of the cost is for labor in installation of the antenna as  
well as the electronics
There is (was) a budding business in providing a maritime solution to  
compete with INMARSAT - commercial shipping companies were beginning  
to install the solution that costed $70k (vs. $500k) because it did  
not need the aircraft certification and inspections and effort.
Each transponder (covering specific regions - obviously) was leased  
for about $1M a year - they don't belong to Boeing. This was a major  
ongoing cost.
Boeing had worked on a much cheaper solution using cellular  
technology for over-land solutions and an underbelly antenna that the  
domestic US airlines were hoping for.
A General Aviation Electronics provider was integrating the satellite  
system into small jets that utilized a much cheaper tail-based  
antenna that was working.
On certain routes, (Hitech city to Hitech city like Hong Kong to  
Seattle, London to Los Angeles, etc) the usage reached the point  
where it was already profitable.
Boeing's marketing folks on this were ill-equipped to sell a  
"consumer" service like this. No clue.
Boeing covered the cost of the install, not the airline. And Boeing  
handled the billing process (the infrastructure that has now been  
"ripped out" hence the free service till they drop the airline  
service. And Boeing paid a small piece of revenue to the airline.
The airlines had very little incentive therefor to push the service,  
and so they haven't (wouldn't it have been useful if the airline  
reservation clerk finished each call for an equipped flight  
reservation by offering the service on the upcoming flight?).
The airlines refused to allow Boeing access to their customers to  
push the service.
Boeing should have cut a deal that allowed the airlines to handle the  
billing - so that the airlines had control of the customer, and  
therefor had an incentive.

<sigh>. There were some suitors, and Boeing turned them down.

Its a pity that this couldn't have been tossed over to the geek world  
when Boeing knew it was in trouble. There are a lot of folks on this  
list with satellite on a shoestring type clue (ex-Cidera, third-world  
comms, etc).

OK, I'm done, unless someone has an idea and wants to try put a group  
together to solve this. In which case an alternative list would be  
the right place to begin the discussion. ;-).

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