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Boeing Frontiers
April 2004
Volume 02, Issue 11
Boeing Frontiers
Connexion by Boeing

From Earth to skies

Support on the ground makes Connexion service fly


From Earth to skiesAs the Connexion by Boeing mobile broadband service makes its commercial debut this spring, the aircraft and the people using the system will be in the spotlight. But helping travelers on long-range flights better manage their time wouldn't be possible without an extensive support network on the ground.

To an unprecedented degree, a Boeing business unit will now deal directly with airline passengers who will use its equipment and services—and in doing so will decide the fate of this business. Consequently, Connexion by Boeing has evolved from a research-and-development-driven business unit into a customer-facing one.

"We are changing the DNA of our enterprise. I love hardware as much as anyone, but we are truly about serving people," said Connexion by Boeing President Scott Carson.

To acquire the skills and capabilities needed to serve individual customers, Connexion hired a workforce and subcontractors with telecommunications industry experience. They help set up the network and procedures that will help revolutionize the way travelers work and relax while mobile.

Connexion's Operational Business Services team in Irvine, Calif., has contracted with SITEL to provide direct customer care to airborne passengers by fielding e-mail and text-chat inquiries and providing toll-free telephone assistance to customers on the ground. SITEL uses a Customer Relationship Management application customized by Connexion's Enterprise Operations team. Connexion also customized the customer-care training plan and call center procedures that call center workers use to support its service.

Text QuoteTo help Connexion contain its operating costs, Connexion Business Services is using off-the-shelf, Internet-based solutions to support personal and corporate billing. The Irvine team continues to adapt existing industry standards, processes and capabilities to maximize offerings and minimize risk.

To keep watch over the system, the Connexion by Boeing Network Operations Center in Kent, Wash., tracks the system and monitors the strength of satellite signals reaching its ground stations. It's designed to track hundreds of aircraft at a time and troubleshoot signal anomalies as they arise.

"The plan is to be able to troubleshoot and fix a problem even before the customer could have become aware that a problem had occurred," said Mike Turner, Connexion manager of network operations.

The ground-support network enables Connexion to determine—in real time—what kind of experience passengers are having with the system. The Enterprise Operations Center in Irvine monitors the overall health of the Connexion business. Using online business tools, the Enterprise Operations staff collects and analyzes performance and usage data, then provides the information to airline customers and Connexion by Boeing leadership in order to make service improvements. This capabilty will prove especially important as more customers use Connexion by Boeing.

Lufthansa German Airlines will roll out the service this spring. Scandinavian Airlines System, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways have signed agreements to roll out the service later this year and in 2005. China Airlines of Taiwan and Singapore Airlines have signed preliminary agreements to equip their long-range aircraft fleets with Connexion by Boeing at dates to be determined. Connexion also has announced that beginning next year, it will offer its mobile information service to the world's maritime vessels.

With the cooperation of its information-services vendors, Connexion by Boeing "will be held back by no boundaries as we proceed to show the world that we are truly customer-centric and service ready—first time, every time," said Joe Shaheen, director of operational services for Connexion by Boeing.


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