Lycos Takes E-Commerce To The Skies

Internet portal Lycos, Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) announced today that it has signed an agreement with Inflightonline.com to provide Internet services to airline passengers.

Inflightonline.com has been developing a system to offer complete Internet services to airline passengers with laptop computers for the last two years. Company president Dan Dailey told the E-Commerce Times that the company is now close to seeing the fruits of its labor.

“There were a lot of technical hurdles we have had to overcome to get this far and we still have some work to do,” said Dailey. “We are talking to three domestic carriers now and expect to see our first test with one of them in April.”

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based Lycos also disclosed that it took a 10 percent stake in the fledgling Deerfield Beach, Florida-based Inflightonline.com. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

No Fly by Night

Dailey said that his company has signed on some seasoned airline industry executives to help pave the way for the introduction of the service. Inflightonline.com has an agreement with AT&T, he said, to store their 20-pound airborne data servers on board passenger planes.

The airborne servers will be linked to the seat-back telephone handsets that are offered on virtually every domestic U.S. carrier now. Dailey said the initial connection will be at 56K, but the company intends to speed that up in future.

The servers will open up to a co-branded page of Lycos content, offering access to its new 1000-store LycosShop, as well as the wide range of services available from any earthly location. Dailey said that the servers will be capable of storing the Web sites of an additional 30 e-commerce stores, giving passengers a wide choice of shopping venues.

Full Range Of In-Flight Services

Jeff Crown, Lycos’ Vice President of corporate development, said in a statement that his company is the first portal to have an in-flight ISP agreement. “This service arena offers a tremendous market opportunity,” he added.

Lycos could have a piece of the in-flight action to itself for a while. Dailey said that he does not know of any other company that is working on the service to the same advanced extent. There are some e-mail providers, of course, but to his knowledge, no firm is working to provide a full range of Internet services.

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