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American Airlines is to commence testing an in-flight broadband service early next year.

The world's largest airline will provide passengers on its 15 Boeing 767-200 planes with wireless connections for laptops, smart phones and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

For an as yet unconfirmed fee, passengers will be able to use the service to surf the internet, but will be blocked from using internet-based telephone services such as Skype.

Should the trial prove successful, American will mull rolling out the service to the rest of its fleet.

Dan Garton, American's executive vice president of marketing said: "We understand that broadband connectivity is important to our business customers and others who want to use their PDAs and laptops for real-time, inflight broadband communications

"This is part of our continuing effort to enhance the travel experience for our customers and meet their evolving needs."

News of developments comes as Lufthansa recently announced it is considering offering in-flight internet access in early 2008.

The German airline will use a satellite-based system which is to be provided by T-Mobile, SES Global and ViaSat.

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