Instant Messaging, Text Messaging at 30,000 Feet
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OAK BROOK, Ill. - Two of today's hottest business applications, Instant Messaging (IM) and text messaging, have literally taken off now that Verizon Airfone's JetConnectSM service has been equipped on Continental Airlines' entire fleet of narrow-body aircraft.
JetConnect is an in-flight communication, news and entertainment service and is the only provider of IM and text-messaging services to passengers on U.S. commercial flights.
Verizon Airfone began offering JetConnect on select Continental flights in November 2002. The company has equipped all of Continental's narrow-body fleet with the JetConnect service.
"We continually search for value-added services and technologies that will provide our customers with a more enjoyable inflight experience," said Mark Bergsrud, Continental Airlines vice president, marketing programs. "Depending on the customer's frame of mind, JetConnect can be a fun diversion or a means to get more work done while in flight."
Passengers access JetConnect by plugging their laptops or PDAs into a jack on the Verizon Airfone handset. For $5.99 per flight, they can play online games, view destination information such as restaurant listings and local attractions, and get up-to-the-minute news, weather, sports and stock information. But most passengers are logging on to use JetConnect's messaging features.
"Continental saw how much the business traveler's productivity is enhanced with JetConnect," said Bill Pallone, president of Verizon Airfone, "and the airline embraced the opportunity to help business people make progress while in flight. Whether sending a quick text message response to e-mails or brainstorming via IM with an office-based co-worker, JetConnect is smart communication and in step with the knowledge worker's needs."
Market intelligence firm IDC estimates that worldwide there were nearly 80 million users of consumer and enterprise IM applications in the workplace in 2002, and that number will grow to nearly 200 million by 2006.
Added Pallone, "Imagine flying Continental coast-to-coast and interacting in real-time with your colleagues in the office the whole flight. JetConnect is a differentiator in terms of the efficiencies business fliers will gain."
Verizon Airfone technicians conducted the JetConnect service upgrades for the Continental fleet during aircraft refreshes between flights so there was no equipment or service downtime. Because the aircraft were already equipped with Airfone service, JetConnect was provided at no cost to the airline. Continental also incorporates its own information into the JetConnect system.
Continental Airlines is the world's seventh-largest airline and has more than 2,000 daily departures. With 131 domestic and 93 international destinations, Continental has the broadest global route network of any U.S. airline, including extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and carries approximately 41 million passengers per year on the newest jet fleet among major U.S. airlines. With 48,000 employees, Continental is one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. In 2003, Fortune ranked Continental highest among major U.S. carriers in the quality of its service and products, and No. 2 on its list of Most Admired Global Airlines.
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, 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 135.8 million access line equivalents and 32.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and 229,500 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to 33 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.