The news that Boeing is to scrap its Connexion in-flight Internet access service will surprise many people. The fact that it had an in-flight Internet access service will surprise many more. Unless you were a business traveler, flying in Asia where the service was most prevalent, and then one who really could not get by without email and the web for a couple of hours, it simply would not have found your radar.
Anyway, it was something of a non-starter at anything from $10 for 30 minutes upwards. Actually, that is not quite true: if you flew by German carrier Lufthansa, you could get the service free. This is where it all went wrong, as far as I am concerned. If offered as a value added service, bringing a truly useful service to the masses as part of the airfare, then in-flight Internet could have been a flyaway success. The fact that the FAA passed the cost of both testing and approving the necessary wireless devices onto the individual carriers pretty much guaranteed that it was never going to be universally free.
Launched in 2001 it simply never made the kind of impact it could have done. Between the pricing issue (so much for value), the fact that you felt lucky to get a consistent 128k connection (so much for high speed) and the fact that the 9/11 attacks happened just a couple of months after it started (so much for timing) it was a minor miracle that it has lasted this long.
Boeing stands to lose, according to analysts, as much as $320 million by closing the scheme down, but has not actually announced when it will close. This makes the conspiracy theorist in me stand to attention. More so when the new Boeing 787 design is to be prewired for WiFi and Internet access. Is this just some kind of lopsided PR campaign to stir up interest in an otherwise forgotten service? Are there plans afoot to launch a new and improved system? What the heck, I am happy to officially start a rumor that the Google SkyNet will be opening for service within the next couple of years though. And to be honest, it would not surprise me in the least if they did just that.