SAS taps Panasonic for in-flight Internet, mobile connectivity

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Former Connexion by Boeing customer SAS has inked a letter of intent (LOI) with Panasonic Avionics to offer in-flight broadband connectivity and mobile phone service across its fleet.

While final terms are still being negotiated, the LOI allows the parties to immediately begin developing the plan to deploy Panasonic's so-called eXConnect Ku-band satellite-based Internet solution and its eXPhone product - delivered in collaboration with AeroMobile - on the Scandinavian carrier's domestic, pan-European and intercontinental flights.

Installations are expected to begin this fall.

"SAS's new in-flight connectivity options will include state of the art communication services, innovative entertainment options in addition to true broadband connectivity for both mobile and wireless computer usage. It follows our constant focus on finding innovative ways to improve the travel experience for all our customers," says SAS chief commercial officer Robin Kamark.

Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis notes: "SAS was an early adopter of connectivity with the earlier Connexion by Boeing service, and we are very excited to be working with them to bring true broadband solutions back to their passengers."

AeroMobile president and CEO Pal Bjordal adds: "Like SAS, AeroMobile is a company with a proud Scandinavian heritage. Working closely with our Norwegian parent company Telenor, we're delighted to be enabling SAS to be the first Scandinavian airline to offer an in-flight cellular service."

Panasonic has scored a number of customers for eXConnect and eXPhone. Lufthansa is currently offering in-flight Internet on some overseas flights under a partnership with the in-flight entertainment giant. The German carrier intends to fit its entire long-haul fleet with the broadband solution plus eXPhone.