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Singapore Airlines to add broadband

Travelers will be able to get unlimited access for $29.95 on a flight of more than six hours.

Singapore Airlines on Friday announced a deal with a subsidiary of Boeing that will give the airline's passengers broadband connectivity starting next year.

The in-flight Internet service will initially be introduced for flights in the Singapore-London corridor, starting sometime in the first quarter, the airline said. The service will be extended to other flights later.

The airline also will beam live TV programs to passengers' laptops by mid-2005. The channel lineup will include four international news channels, with sports content to be added later, the airline said.

Additionally, passengers who have Internet accounts with Singapore Telecommunications and StarHub will be able to use their regular usernames and passwords to log in from the air, thanks to agreements between those service providers and the Boeing subsidiary, called Connexion by Boeing.

Earlier this year, Lufthansa German Airlines became the first commercial airline in the world to have onboard broadband connectivity; like Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa worked with Connexion by Boeing to offer the service. Another provider of in-flight broadband technology is Tenzing, an Airbus-backed service.

Meanwhile, British Airways has backed off from plans to offer in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, saying the technology was immature and expensive, and calling on Airbus and Boeing to integrate entertainment into their planes.

Other airlines that have similar pacts with Connexion by Boeing are China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Japan's All Nippon Airways and Scandinavian Airlines System.

Singapore Airlines will offer two pricing structures: one that's unlimited per flight and another that incorporates a pay-as-you-go component.

Unlimited access on flights of more than six hours will cost $29.95. The price for flights of three to six hours will be $19.95, and for flights of less than three hours, unlimited access will cost $14.95.

With the metered plans, on flights longer than three hours passengers will be able to pay $9.95 for the first 30 minutes, then 25 cents for each minute after that. For flights of less than three hours, travelers will be able to pay $7.95 for 30 minutes and 25 cents per minute after that.