The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Boeing may halt is Connexion in-flight broadband service: The Journal says that the company has invested about $1b in the service. My sources put this number much higher--potentially far above $2b. Whatever the number, the Journal states that satellite industry officials put the current value at $150m. The article says that Boeing is saying privately that the user uptake is too low.
Boeing has apparently been in communications with at least three firms to arrange a sale: SES Global, Inmarsat, and Loral Space & Communications, with talks in detail with SES. If no sale can be arranged, Boeing would pull the plug. The latest Boeing CEO pushed the division to a different part of the aerospace company, and signaled his relative disinterest in interviews. Earlier CEOs had more at stake, and I predicted years ago that a change in management could result in a massive writedown, but I didn't expect a shutdown.
Connexion competitor OnAir plans to launch service via Inmarsat satellites in 2007 starting with in-flight cell in Europe and moving to broadband. They have long estimated a much cheaper conversion with much lighter equipment, but that has yet to materialize on commercial aircraft.
The timing on this story is fascinating given my prediction earlier today that Verizon could announce a complete shutdown of its AirFone system at an all-AirFone-employee meeting I learned is scheduled for tomorrow.