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American tests inflight streaming video

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  May 4, 2011 11:14 AM

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American Airlines says it plans to roll out a fee-based inflight service that will allow passengers to stream movies or TV shows to their laptops, tablet computers, or smart phones as early as this fall, pending regulatory approval.

Texas-based American, along with its WiFi service provider Aircell, is currently testing the video system on two Boeing 767-200 aircraft in transcontinental service, and plans to give customers a look early this summer.

The carrier has not yet decided how much to charge but representatives told USA Today that the price will be "very similar" to the fees for pay-per-view movies at home. Travelers who opt to pay for a movie or show won't be charged separately for Internet service, which currently runs from $4.95 for up to 1.5 hours to $12.95 for the day.

Doug Backelin, American Airlines' manager of in-flight communications and technology, told USA Today that the video system will be run through on-board servers, so it won't put a drag on the Internet service, which uses a separate air-to-ground technology.

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