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Television Media Wireless Networking Hardware

Boeing Eyes In-Flight Live TV on Your Laptop 205

Posted by michael
from the nothing-but-airplane-movies dept.
cobravenum2 writes "Boeing is planning to add live television to its Connexion by Boeing service during 2005, The television programs will be delivered across the Connexion network, which uses satellites to provide high-speed data connections between aircraft in-flight and ground stations linked to the Internet. The service entered commercial use earlier this year and provides a 5 megabits per second shared downstream and 1 mbps shared upstream connection to suitably equipped aircraft. You'll be able to view up to four channels of live TV over your laptop."
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Boeing Eyes In-Flight Live TV on Your Laptop

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  • Now I won't miss Adult Swim while I'm taking my flights to Europe and back.
    • Now I won't miss Adult Swim while I'm taking my flights to Europe and back.
      Because, you know, of the four channels the plane is able to receive, they would prioritize Cartoon Network over anything else available.
      • Because, you know, of the four channels the plane is able to receive, they would prioritize Cartoon Network over anything else available.

        Yeah; children generally like cartoons.

        - dshaw
        • Which means they'd probably choose Nickelodeon material over Cartoon Network's. That's pretty much how it's worked out for Armed Forces Network television for U.S. military overseas, which also only consists of about four or five channels in most areas (usually much less if you're a non-subscriber living outside the installation).

          Sucks having something obnoxious like Rugrats on instead of Dexter's Lab.
    • Live TV huh? well if nothing good is on I'll just use my Tivo then.
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by mordors9 (665662) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:06AM (#11134968)
    Now I can have some loudmouth on one side talking on his cell phone and some woman watching oprah on the other. Life can't get much better.
    • Almost makes a First Class upgrade worth it, eh?
      • Sure. All that burning in hell you're going to be doing for however you got that filthy lucre, you deserve an extra cookie on the flight.
    • by green pizza (159161) on Monday December 20, 2004 @02:31AM (#11135275) Homepage
      Most of the large airlines in the USA have a really difficult time dealing with onboard services and prices. Several of the biggies started charging for their poor quality meals. Pretty much every USA airline has a very poor excuse for first class (especially when compared to foreign airlines). Customer service is more than just a few listed items on some cutesy poster by the ticket counter.

      So I'm wondering how these same airlines are going to implement and charge for this new service. Just because Boeing is offering it, doesn't mean that every airline is going to automatically buy and install these systems and not charge the passengers!

      If American Airlines can't figure out how to serve a *large* dish of ice cream in first class, then I don't see how they're going to find the value in onboard streaming data and video.
    • Already happens. When I flew to Vegas last month there were at least 10 people watching DVD's on those portable players WITHOUT headphones. They'd just crank it up as high as it could go to hear over the engines/cabin noise. Made reading a book near impossible.

      Am I the only one who files with at least 2 pair of headphones and a splitter so the person next to me can enjoy my movie too?
  • by wasted (94866) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:09AM (#11134978)
    The television programs will be delivered across the Connexion network, which uses satellites to provide high-speed data connections between aircraft in-flight and ground stations linked to the Internet.

    So those long TransPacific flights will only have sporadic TV coverage? Those are the ones that could use it the most. Or will 747 aircraft start following the equivalent of ETOPS routes to ensure internet coverage?

    * ETOPS Routes - Routes flown by twin engine aircraft on extended overwater flights to ensure that they can reach land within a certain amount of time in the event of an engine failure.
  • MPAA sues Boeing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:10AM (#11134984)
    So how long before "viewed on Laptop" becomes "recorded on laptop" ?

    Man, this is going to be real headache for MPAA, having to refer 5 different country copyright laws, if the plane flies over different countries(Look at the Singapore Airline Routes) during the entire unauthorized recording process.

    On the other hand anything that creates havoc for MPAA... this cannot be a bad thing, right ?

  • Only 5 Mb/s? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tongariro (110144) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:10AM (#11134985)
    Streaming a channel using high compression video and audio codec at CIF resolution will get the data rate down to about 500 Kb/s. Assuming that every bit is used for streaming, that will be 10 channels maximum to be shared between those among the 300 passengers who has the laptop/PDA/phone.

    I can see it now, air rage over bandwidth hogs. :-)
  • 2 Things (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tarunthegreat2 (761545) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:12AM (#11134991)
    1) Does Boeing Run Linux?

    2) Ummm... don't we already have those nice LCD screens on the back of seats (or folded to the side) on most 747s already? How is this an innovation in anyway? Wouldn't u rather just use the already supplied screen, as opposed to bring out your laptop and stuff? -1 Redundant, n/t
    • > Ummm... don't we already have those nice LCD
      > screens on the back of seats (or folded to the side) on
      > most 747s already?

      It depends on the airline. But generally, the longer the flight and the newer the plane, the more likely it is to have an entertainment system in each seat. Most 777's have them.

      The 747-200 has been out for a long time and maybe have no entertainment at all. The newer 747-400 can usually be found with systems though. A lot of the DC-10's were upgraded with entertainment syste
    • 1) Does Boeing Run Linux?

      Actually, they run a lot of it. It is in the cabins, and in the cockpit (none critical).

    • I doubt this service is going to be Linux based.

      iServices from Apple [apple-x.net]
  • 5 Mbps, 4 channels? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nxtr (813179)
    Sounds like the de facto HDTV standard that allows for either one HD signal or four SD signals through multicasting.
  • TV? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bfields (66644) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:13AM (#11134996) Homepage
    The service entered commercial use earlier this year and provides a 5 megabits per second shared downstream and 1 mbps shared upstream connection to suitably equipped aircraft. You'll be able to view up to four channels of live TV over your laptop.

    5 megabits downstream and 1mbps upstream, and we get.... TV?

    Great.

    --Bruce Fields

  • by drgath159 (821707) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:14AM (#11135000)
    "Boeing hasn't announced the names of the channels that will be available but they'll be international news and financial news channels, he says."

    Booooooring. If you have a laptop, why the hell would you watch StockMarketTV? Watch a DVD or hell... play some scorched earth. I love my PDA when I take flights cause I just load a few DVD rips on my SD card and have enough juice and content to watch for about 8 hours.

    Can airlines ever think of anything other than cheesy novelty features. Does anyone actually use the phones built into the seat? No. Use that high speed connection to give us internet!
    • by green pizza (159161)
      **ANYTHING** has to be more interesting than the CNN Airport Network station you see in airport terminals.
    • I once looked up the charges for the phone on an international flight. US$10/minute. You could operate a Bell 206 helicopter for less than that rate.
  • Limitations (Score:3, Informative)

    by krbvroc1 (725200) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:15AM (#11135003)
    I dont think this is very practical. Planes are limited in the power supplied to the seats. Many modern and future laptops draw more power than the plane supplies (or at least the airline allows). Most planes restrict you to 75 watts. So unless you want to use your battery (which has its own limits) you are restricted to how long you can view this. Many airlines also make you remove your battery before you can use power from the plane.

    Secondly, does anyone really need live TV via their laptop - it would seem using installed lcd displays is a whole lot easier.
    • Secondly, does anyone really need live TV via their laptop - it would seem using installed lcd displays is a whole lot easier.


      Well, if they are going to give you internet access in the first place, that way they save on the lcd display. The question now is, if all you want is 'plain' internet access, are they going to charge you extra for the live TV 'service' anyway?
    • Many airlines also make you remove your battery before you can use power from the plane.


      So what do they do for the laptops that will not run without a battery? My wife's old Dell Win ME laptop will not turn on without a battery.
    • My PowerBook's power adapter is rated for 60W max, and I believe the computer itself draws an average of maybe 20W when it's running. (The battery is 50Wh, and I get 2-3 hours on a charge.) I know that Apple machines tend to be a bit thriftier on power than PCs, but I'd be surprised if a normal PC laptop couldn't get by just fine on 75W. Should I be surprised?
      • I know that Apple machines tend to be a bit thriftier on power than PCs, but I'd be surprised if a normal PC laptop couldn't get by just fine on 75W. Should I be surprised?

        No, sadly. I have a RadioShack brick car power inverter (140W continuous, 400W for seconds). This inverter can run two iBooks with no trouble. It cuts out if I connect one Toshiba 6300 to it with the battery in - the machine boots and runs until XP gets up enough to start running power management and charging the battery, then the i

    • At least if you have an iBook, you can get up to 6 hours battery life. For my purposes, this is usually enough, when I factor out takeoffs, landings, time spent sleeping, eating, and reading or some other low-tech time consumption method.

      Of course, I've also never been a person who can watch movies continuously, one after the other after the other.
  • Laptop power would be nice on overseas flights, 2 hours battery life sucks. That's something I'd pay up to ~$30 US for.
    • by man_ls (248470)
      Inverters can be had for about $30 (after MIR) although, for today's power-hungry laptops, my $30 inverter is strong enough to charge the battery while the laptop is shut off, but overdraws when the thing is actually turned on.

      Inverter will either plug direct into the plane's +12vDC socket, or use an adapter (about $10) to get a standard +12vDC car-style socket from the plane's socket.
      • Where does one find these mythical 12v DC sockets in an airplane? I have travelled pretty regularly inside the US for work (coach, of course-- my company is cheap) and have yet to ever spot an outlet of any sort, on any plane, on any airline. Hell, I've been toying with trying to see how much current I could coax out of the headphone jack, but I doubt it's worth doing.

  • by datastalker (775227) on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:28AM (#11135077) Homepage
    Song has a partnership with Dish Network, and provides 24 channels of TV to the screen in the headrest in front of you. They also provide trivia, music (broadcast and create your own playlist (for a fee)), as well as movies (for a fee), and games (for a fee). The fees for the pay-per stuff are reasonable, but there's enough free (trivia and 24 channels) stuff to keep you busy the entire flight.

    • Song and JetBlue are great. Unless you want to fly to Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal, Anchorage, Honolulu, Tokyo, London, Paris, or Berlin...

      (And really, if SONG can offer Dish Network and games, why can't the rest of Delta Airlines??)
  • This service was announced sometime in 2000 or so and should have been far more pervasive than it is now. Wifi Internet access in the air was supposed to have been fairly easy to get, but you can still only get it on a few airlines (like Lufthansa) and you have to be going on pretty long trips (like overseas) to even have the option of getting it.

    Before we start adding more stuff like TV (why do we need that, anyway, when aircraft are often equipped these days with seatback LCD screens?) ... give us more f
  • by bjbest (808259) on Monday December 20, 2004 @02:01AM (#11135191)
    JetBlue advertises that they offer 36 channels of DirecTV. Screen at every seat. For free. Right now. No need to bring your own equipment.
  • Internet access. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DustyShadow (691635) on Monday December 20, 2004 @02:27AM (#11135263) Homepage
    I'd much rather have internet access on my laptop while I fly instead of 4 crappy tv channels.
  • Coincidence (Score:3, Funny)

    by ThesQuid (86789) <a987@mac.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Monday December 20, 2004 @02:45AM (#11135306) Journal
    I just happen to be in an ANA flight and they happen to have the Connexion service, and it rocks! Getting 28kb/sec on my torrent now. Perhaps the RIAA will sue Boeing?
  • I'll believe it when I see it.

    Some airlines "get it" and have realized that their customers find value in free onboard services. JetBlue is a young "no-name" airline with a strong following because of their upbeat attitude and nice in-cabin entertainment offerings.

    Other airlines have divisions that "get it", such as Delta's SONG airline. (I don't really agree with the way they pimp candy bars and sandwiches though).

    But there are still so many airlines that have a really hard time grasping the concept tha
    • I'd LOVE to fly JetBlue or Song ... if they served St. Louis. Southwest is pretty decent and does come here, but typically, the companies that I *WANT* to patronize don't give a damn about my area. They need to get a clue that because they have a clue in OTHER areas ... there are people that would give them money for their services! But no, instead we're stuck with crap like American, who bought TWA a few years ago and promised no layoffs or other screwings.

      Now here we are with most of the flight schedule
  • by Dano Watt (841769) on Monday December 20, 2004 @03:38AM (#11135429) Homepage
    Why would I need to watch TV on my laptop when it's 80 gig drive holds hours of porn?
  • by zmollusc (763634)
    WTF? You can drastically cut the bandwidth needed by storing the station logos and advertising locally on the aircraft. Even better, since most TV is repetitive, you could generate it 'on the fly' (ha ha).

    "Buy our product! Oooh yeah! It's really great! Woo!"

    "You're watching Boeing-o-vision! Parp parp parp Boeing telly BOEING TELLY Boeing Telly parpity parp"

    "And now, the news"

    "News Time! News Time! Squeak! Parp! Toot! News Time!"

    "Britney has/hasn't had plastic surgery. The war against terror continues.
  • I suppose this is a bit off topic, But I'm extremely curios about the satellites providing this service. How many of those birds are up there to deliver all this bandwith? I know next to nothing about Sat Comm, but I imagine (due to launch costs and insurance etc.) satellites are expensive to operate. and that cost is passed on to the bandwidth endusers. Wasn't this the reason satellite phone (the ones with giant antennae) are only used sparingly by those in the most remote locations? Is it even a remo
  • actually it's 5 mbps upstream and 1 mbps downstream, since we are referring a connection of an airplane and the ground.
  • The terms "down stream" and "up stream" seem counter intuitive for the first time ever. At 30,000 feet I think I want the bulk of my bandwidth comming up!
  • I can't wait. A standard 22 minute TV comedy will take 45 minutes in the air after watching 23 minutes of commercials.

    Thanks... but no thanks. I'll just stick to a DVD.
  • Let's charge people oh, about a dollar a minute to watch tv on the plane because making them line up like it's the last plane out of Saigon, treating them like they're criminals and pretty much pulling their on time schedule out of their ass and charging more to go to Memphis TN than to go to Moscow really isn't enough.

    I hope every airline goes broke in 05.
  • If I decide to sleep and with my laptop record the stream, be it live tv or movies, are they mine, will I be arrested for 'Stealing' copyrighted materials?
  • For a lot of people long-distance flights represent, like subways/tubes/undergrounds/metros, the rare opportunity to sit down, relax, maybe read a book.

    I'd rather airlines don't buy into the TV service, and instead offer more comfortable chairs or even beds for long-haul flights. Or at least give customers the choice. Some will pay more for a TV, some will pay more for a comfortable chair or bed.
  • by KC7GR (473279) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:53PM (#11137788) Homepage Journal
    Back around 1998 or so, when I was still at Boeing, the Commercial Avionics department had built, and was experimenting with, a prototype system that would provide Dish Network service to every seat.

    It was pretty amazing stuff. For the antenna, they had a rectangular slab about five feet by three that contained the electronic equivalent of hundreds of individual "dish" antennas in a phased array. The idea was to give each seat the equivalent of its own dish so that each passenger could be watching a different channel.

    This monstrosity was designed to be mounted on the top of the fuselage, about mid-body. It was aimed electronically, based on latitude/longitude info gathered from the ADIRU (Air Data Inertial Reference Unit), a 'black box' that contained (among other things) an inertial navigation computer.

    The idea was to have a six-inch LCD active-matrix panel in each seat back, with the audio piped over one of the existing channels in the aircraft's audio entertainment system.

    The entire system was a marvel of engineering, and I consider myself fortunate enough to have watched the prototype undergoing testing. Unfortunately, I don't think it ever made it into production -- the costs were just too high.

    Now, though, perhaps the idea will be revived...?

    Keep the peace(es).

  • my favorite show is on at 8pm eastern & pacific, 7pm central & mountain... how will I *possibly* schedule my flight to make sure I see it?

    (If I'm redundant, save your mod points... I am browisng at +5 and don't feel like reading the thread lower to see if someone else made this joke already.)

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