Airline passengers will soon surf the friendly skies


June 17, 2001


Business travelers may soon get to surf the Web while flying their favorite airline after the ink dries on a flurry of agreements and buyouts.

European airplane manufacturer Airbus Industrie announced recently it was buying part of a company that provides in-flight Internet access.

The deal with Seattle-based Tenzing Communications will start putting its planes online via satellite this year.

But using the Web while flying won't be cheap.

With Tenzing's service, customers would pay a flat fee of $4.95 to see e-mail headlines, and then 50 cents a page to read those e-mails. Access to some Web sites would be available for free.

Airbus' competitor, Boeing, has signed a similar deal, and brought in United, Delta and American Airlines as part owners of Connexion.

The Connexion Internet service is planned for 1,500 airliners by the last half of next year, at a cost of about $20 per hour.

Connexion will also offer live television service and live audio while aircraft are in flight. The services are planned for long-distance flights.

Tenzing Communication's onboard Internet access will be first offered on airlines serving the South Pacific. Air Canada will also test the service.

Access to Tenzing's content partner's Web sites is free; premium content sites require additional payment.

For more information, visit, or

BOOK SENSE. Encyclopedia Britannica is making a full about-face in its business plans after pouring millions of dollars into putting its content online during the past four years.

Three years ago, the company created a free Britannica Web site to complement its online encyclopedia.

In 1998, the company ended the printed edition of its encyclopedia in favor of electronic means of accessing the information.

The company so intently on delivering content via the Web it essentially quit creating new content for its online encyclopedia.

But competition from products like Microsoft's Encarta, along with the big shakeup in Internet advertising and the sinking value of tech stocks has changed the company's plans.

Britannica will continue with its free, ad-supported Web site, but to generate new revenue, it plans to focus on subscription-based services, including, a Web-based resource for the K-12 school market.

The company is also planning to syndicate its content with Web resource sites and online textbooks. About dozen syndication deals have already been signed.

The company will also offer subscriptions to a premium advertising-free version of its online encyclopedia.

Britannica will also resume print publication of its 32-volume print encyclopedia this fall.

Encyclopedia Britannica is the oldest continuously published reference work in the English language. It has been in print since 1768.

MILLION STAYING OFFLINE. A new survey is reporting that despite the hype and hoopla -- and the real benefits -- offered by using the Internet, millions of people who could use the Internet choose not to.

According to research by Ipsos-Reid, about one-third of people in developed countries like the U.S., Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands see no compelling reason to use the Internet.

Forty percent of those who said they chose not to use the Internet said they did not because they had no need to use it.

The survey also examined Internet access in less developed countries, and found that the cost of going online was prohibitive, and access is frequently available only in urban areas.

Only about 6 percent of the world's 6 billion people are on the Internet, the survey estimates.

The survey polled residents in the United States, Japan, western Europe, English-speaking countries outside the United States, as well as Ibero-America, Asia, Egypt, Russia, India and China.

Sweden leads the world in the percentage of population that uses the Internet.

Sixty-five percent of Swedes use the Internet frequently, the survey said. Canada followed in second place with 60 percent, and the U.S. with 59 percent.

NETSCAPE BETA RELEASED. Netscape has released Netscape 6.1 PR1, a beta version of the next release of its Web browser.

The major changes in this version include faster loading of Web pages, better management of bookmarks, URL autocompletion/dropdowns, better form management, improved mail client and addition of a "history" item for the sidebar.

The term "beta" means this is a pre-release version of the software, which probably may not have all the functions working properly. Beta software allows users and developers a sneak preview at the browser's new features.

Netscape offers Netscape 6.01 and Communicator 4.77 for free on CD. The company also bundles the software with a variety of books about the browsers.

Having the software on CD-ROM is extremely handy; users pay only $6.95, which pays for the CD-ROM and shipping.

I've used Netscape products as my Web browser of choice since 1995. I still prefer Navigator to Internet Explorer, and I must be in good company -- Netscape is still (for now) in the Web browser business.

Visit the Web site at and click the Download button for more details.

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