Laptops Sprout Wings with Verizon Airfone JetConnect Service

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Airline travelers now can enjoy the benefits of the Internet at 30,000 feet. Instant messages, online games and up-to-the-minute news are taking to the skies on flights equipped with Verizon Airfone's new in-flight data service, JetConnectsm.

Verizon Airfone recently installed JetConnect service on several commercial aircraft and will expand the service to some 100 additional aircraft by year-end. Airfone is upgrading its in-flight voice and data network to offer a multitude of useful, entertaining communication services to airlines and their passengers.

"Staying informed and in touch online is no longer just an earthbound activity," said Bill Pallone, president of Verizon Airfone. "JetConnect gives airline passengers access to a wide range of data tools and online content that travelers believe are indispensable for staying in touch. Our new JetConnect service provides a significant competitive advantage to airlines by generating revenues and enhancing passenger comfort, satisfaction and loyalty."

Up to 46 passengers on a flight can simultaneously access the JetConnect service by plugging their laptops into jacks on the Verizon Airfone handset. Verizon initially will test various flat-rate fees for the service ranging from $5 to $10 per flight.

JetConnect operates on the existing Airfone network and does not increase an aircraft's weight or power consumption.

The first phase of Jet Connect service offerings includes:

  • Instant messaging: chat one-to-one from aircraft to ground, ground to aircraft, or from passenger to passenger.

  • Short messaging: send short, one-way messages.

  • News, weather, sports scores and stock quotes: check information that is continuously updated every 15 minutes, keeping travelers completely up to date.

  • City guides, entertainment articles and interactive games: enjoy a variety of fresh, fun ways to pass the time aloft.

Airlines with JetConnect service can incorporate their own information into the system, including updated schedules, flight status and destination information. Verizon plans to add more JetConnect services such as high-speed e-mail and file downloading in the future.

Verizon Airfone is working with ScreamingMedia to create the JetConnect interactive portal and to provide sports, weather and stocks information. FluentMedia, a content solution from Tribune Company, is providing news and city information and GameHouse is providing Java-based games.

"We've assembled the most creative and experienced team possible to make JetConnect a service that travelers won't want to fly without," said Pallone.

Verizon Airfone, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, began offering commercial service in 1984 with the introduction of the first cordless air-to-ground telephone system. Airfone installed the first seatback telephone in 1987, and the company deployed a nationwide, end-to-end digital system starting in 1993. Airfone's airline customers include Air Wisconsin Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Midwest Express Airlines, United Airlines, USAirways, AeroMexico, Alitalia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Southern Airlines, Thai Airways International, and Turkish Airlines.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 135.1 million access line equivalents and 30.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 241,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.