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Boeing Shuts Down Connexion

What if you offered folks an Internet connection, and no one cared? And what if you invented a new technology offering Internet access where it had never been available before, and no one was interested?

That appears to be the case with Boeing’s Connexion: according to the London Times, Boeing has finally shut down its inflight internet service, after more than six years of development. The shutdown doesn’t exactly come as a surprise—the service has never been available in the U.S., in part due to regulatory and security concerns, and usership on carriers who have supported the service (Lufthansa, SAS, Japan Airlines, El Al, and others) has not been high enough to justify continued operation.

What is surprising is that Boeing wasn’t able to find a buyer for Connexion: you’d think surely there must be a company interested in inflight Internet service. Think of all those business travelers who need to get work done! They’re a captive audience on the plane! But apparently demand for inflight Internet just hasn’t matched sky-high expectations, and Boeing wasn’t able to find a party willing to take over the service. The result will apparently be a $320 million write-off for Boeing as it shuts down service and pays early termination fees on service contracts.