The race to replace Connexion

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The race to provide a replacement high-speed connectivity service to fill the void left by Connexion by Boeing is heating up, with Panasonic Avionics securing a commitment to equip an undisclosed carrier's aircraft with its new in-flight broadband service, eXconnect.

While details have not been disclosed, Panasonic Avionics director of strategic product marketing David Bruner says the unidentified carrier is not a former user of Boeing's now-defunct Connexion service, although Panasonic remains prepared to accommodate former Connexion customers. Other potential deals are in the works, which could see eXconnect launch on-board aircraft in the fourth quarter or early next year.

Panasonic is not the only manufacturer working on connectivity solutions for airlines. Thales expects to unveil its airborne connectivity plans shortly, while Rockwell Collins recently partnered with Arinc on an in-flight broadband offering.

New players have also emerged. California-based start-up Row 44 has secured an unidentified US launch customer for its airborne connectivity services. Another potential provider, start-up AirStellar, has not yet revealed any details.

Germany's Lufthansa says it will soon select a replacement supplier for its connectivity service, which was previously provided by Connexion. Meanwhile, American Airlines has become the first US airline to sign a memorandum of intent with AirCell to provide wireless broadband connectivity in the cabin. AirCell is developing air-to-ground wireless services that it says "will be a fraction of the cost of satellite-based broadband systems".