BT is to introduce a service that lets users travelling by air send e-mail and access the Internet. The service will also allow remote, air-borne workers to dial in to terrestrial computers via BT software and the Skyphone consortium's satellite communications network.
A beta test programme has been underway for the air-to-ground satellite-based service and the service will formally go live early in 1997. The project - which BT claims is the first such service in the world - supplements BT's satellite online shopping and Reuters news services on Singapore Airlines and other carriers. Testing is being carried out at 2.4Kbits/sec but BT expects to ultimately offer 9.6Kbits/sec access.
BT claims there are more than four billion air travellers per year and over 1,000 commercial aircraft that have satellite communications capabilities.