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Originally published August 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 2, 2007 at 1:41 PM

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American will test in-flight Internet access

American Airlines has agreed to test a new in-flight broadband system in 2008, becoming the first domestic carrier to move forward on Internet...

Special to The Seattle Times

American Airlines has agreed to test a new in-flight broadband system in 2008, becoming the first domestic carrier to move forward on Internet access since the shutdown of Connection by Boeing in late 2006.

American will work with AirCell, an Itasca, Ill., company that won the May 2006 bidding for a sliver of air-to-ground spectrum designed to replace underused telephone services by Verizon AirFone.

The system AirCell is designing would provide Internet access via onboard Wi-Fi relayed through an antenna to a ground network.

Pricing hasn't been set, but AirCell said it would cost slightly more than comparable Wi-Fi hot-spot service on the ground. An onboard portal will allow free access to American and partner Web sites for booking flights, hotels, and cars, among other services.

The test will use American's Boeing 767-200 transcontinental fleet and work within the contiguous U.S. states. The service will operate at what AirCell says are speeds similar to DSL.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Lufthansa is close to a deal that would allow its 65 satellite-Internet long-haul planes to regain access following Connection's shutdown.

The Journal said Lufthansa is in talks with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile division in Europe about restarting the satellite service, though neither company would confirm discussions.

Lufthansa flies several long-haul routes from Seattle.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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