Boeing began research into broadband communications in the 1980s as part of its work for the U.S. government. As the Cold War ended, the company entered discussions with commercial airlines, most notably American and Delta, about how to adapt the technology to civilian use. During the late 1990s, these initiatives became known as Aviation Information Services, and then Global Mobile Services.
As the 1990s progressed, airplane passengers became increasingly interested in using the satellite-enabled system to access the Internet. On April 27, 2000, Boeing announced it would offer high-speed connectivity to commercial aviation under a new brand, Connexion by Boeing® Mobile Communications Service. At the 2001 Paris Air Show, Lufthansa German Airlines agreed to become the international launch customer.
The events of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the business unit to change its plans and delay its commercial introduction. Arrangements with U.S. carriers who had expressed interest in the service were terminated, and Connexion by Boeing focused on launching its commercial business internationally.
The Connexion by Boeing service made its debut aboard Lufthansa Flight 452 between Munich and Los Angeles on May 17, 2004. By 2006, the Connexion by Boeing system was installed on several commercial airplanes and some large private and government-owned business jets, and Boeing was planning to enter the commercial maritime market.
On Aug. 17, 2006, however, Boeing announced that the company had decided to exit the high-speed broadband communications connectivity markets and would work with its customers to facilitate an orderly phase out of the Connexion by Boeing service.
"Over the last six years, we have invested substantial time, resources and technology in Connexion by Boeing," said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. "Regrettably, the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected."