Which Asian airline will win the wifi race?

Singapore Airlines said October 5 that it will roll out in-flight wifi and communications services across its fleet from next year, which could make it the first airline to offer a full "suite" of connectivity services that include in-flight calling and high-speed wifi.

The service will be launched in collaboration with OnAir, which already powers communications services for Egypt Air and Oman Air, among others.

Singapore says that it will be the first Asian-based airline to offer passengers full onboard communications - although OnAir announced a tie-up with AirAsia in September, it made no mention of the wifi internet service that Singapore Airlines will offer, instead saying that customers would be able to access the internet through a significantly slower GPRS connection.

Cathay Pacific is currently working with Panasonic and Aeromobile to roll out wireless internet connections, although services are not due to launch until early 2012, and while Air New Zealand will launch mobile telephony services on board its flights this year, internet access will be through GPRS.

Malaysia Airlines became the first Asian airline to offer mobile telephony services in 2008, revealing last year that passenger use of the system was over 40 percent on some flights.

Singapore Airlines passengers will be able to use the wifi, along with voice calls, SMS and GPRS on the GSM network when it begins to roll out in the first half of 2011.

Mobile telephony services will be billed by passengers' home mobile phone operator, but internet access will be billed upon logging on to the system during the flight - pricing is to be announced closer to the launch.

http://www.singaporeair.com

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