has conducted the first successful live demonstration of airborne two-way short messaging service to mobile phones worldwide.
Onboard a demonstration flight of a new Airbus 340-600 aircraft from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, David Trowern, engineering vice president of Tenzing, exchanged SMS messages with several friends and colleagues across the United States and the United Kingdom. Mr. Trowern sent SMS updates on his arrival time to the Los Angeles airport and received back their well wishes, conversing directly with their mobile handsets, while inflight somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
The new service will integrate with the onboard inflight entertainment system to allow passengers access to the most innovative features to-date, being able to send and reply to SMS messages via their seat back video screen. This marks another major milestone for inflight connectivity options for airline passengers developed by Tenzing.
Like terrestrial SMS, passengers will simply need to know the recipient`s mobile phone number. While inflight, passengers will not need their mobile handset. Access will be provided through in-seat personal video screens, using either a touchscreen keyboard or in-seat game console handsets for message input. Replies from the ground will be directed right back to the passenger`s seat. The service will offer seamless network interoperability with TDMA, CDMA, GSM and iDEN networks. Governing aeronautic regulatory agencies do not yet approve use of mobile handsets onboard aircraft.
Tenzing is working with several airlines and IFE suppliers to implement this service and expects to have the service available for passenger use later this year. Industry analysts estimate that the total number of SMS messages sent worldwide will rise from 104 billion in Q1 2002 to 329 billion in Q2 2003.
The network utilizes Tenzing`s patent pending satellite communications system for air-to-ground communications with an on-board proxy server delivering content to passengers over a cabin LAN. Tenzing is the only service provider offering both broadband and narrowband solutions to airlines, allowing carriers and their passengers the most choice in technology implementation. Tenzing offers airlines a lower cost entry for inflight email and web services today and can be upgraded by the airline as their connection needs evolve.
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