Cathay Pacific to provide 50Mbps Wi-Fi on planes

If you love traveling but not the idea of leaving your online self behind for a few hours, then the news that Cathay Pacific Airways plans to add Wi-Fi, in-flight calling, and live and pay-per-view TV to its current crop of services is for you.

Okay, so the services will be launched by early 2012 still, but the fact that the Hong Kong-based airline is hell-bent on becoming the geek’s airline of choice lets it earn pogi points from us. If only our very own Philippine Airlines would follow suit…

According to Cathay Pacific, Panasonic Avionics Corporation will provide up to 50Mbps wireless broadband access (yeah, more than what our telcos give us. This is depressing) on all its planes. Which means Cathay Pacific-owned Dragonair will also get the high-tech love.

First, PS3 kiosks at the Hong Kong International Airport, and now this? My, Hong Kong has just become our favorite Asian destination.

Official press release

Cathay Pacific and Panasonic Avionics Corporation plan to keep passengers connected as they fly

Cathay Pacific Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the provision of full broadband connectivity on all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passenger aircraft.

While final terms are still being negotiated, the MOU allows the parties to immediately begin developing the plan to provide connectivity for passengers together with promotional, sponsorship, and e-commerce opportunities for Cathay Pacific partner brands.

Cathay Pacific is the first airline in Asia to announce its intention to deploy Panasonic Avionics’ Global Communications Suite broadband connectivity solution. It is also the first airline globally to announce an intention to provide the solution across its full fleet. Services will launch from early 2012, subject to regulatory approval.

The Panasonic Avionics connectivity solution for Cathay Pacific will comprise the eXConnect broadband service, eXPhone GSM phone service, and a CX-branded free-of-charge entertainment portal – accessible through all passenger devices and seatback screens – that will include a range of content updated during the flight, access to airline and partner sites, e-commerce, airline-specific advertising, and live television with a unique pay-per-view capability for special events.

*eXConnect provides two-way broadband connectivity supporting a wide range of passenger and crew applications, including Internet access, voice, data, and the ability to monitor and transmit airline operational data in real time at speeds of up to 50 Mbps to the aircraft.

*eXPhone, offered in collaboration with AeroMobile’s GSM mobile phone technology, allows passengers to use their mobile phones, smart phones and BlackBerry® devices onboard to make voice calls, send SMS text messages or utilise data services and stream content wirelessly to their iPod®, iPhone® and iPad®. eXPhone gives the airline flexibility and full control over the services offered including restricting certain services when appropriate.

Alex McGowan, head of product for Cathay Pacific, said: “Connectivity will form an important part of our overall customer proposition. Having that connectivity integrated closely with our video-on-demand entertainment system is especially valuable as it means that all passengers will be able to use the service. We believe that being connected is now an expected part of everyday life – not just for business purposes but also to stay in touch with family and friends. This system will allow passengers to be as ‘in touch’ as they wish to be while enjoying the great Cathay Pacific and Dragonair service.”

Charles Ogilvie, executive director of China for Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We are very proud and thrilled to be working with Cathay Pacific. We are committed to serving the needs of the ever-growing markets in China and Asia. With Panasonic Avionics’ Global Communications Services, Cathay Pacific will be the first airline in Asia to offer passengers the most innovative inflight entertainment and communication options onboard commercial aircraft.”

Cathay Pacific Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have enjoyed a close relationship since 1994.

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