Etihad Airways will be the first airline in the world to offer live television and internet access through its seatback entertainment systems next year after signing a deal with Boeing.

Singapore Airlines is set to launch a similar live TV and internet service for its passengers later this summer, but it will only be accessible to passengers travelling with Wi-Fi enabled laptops.

Both airlines are using in-flight broadband technology developed by Boeing called Connexion by Boeing.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline will start rolling out the live TV and internet seatback service from mid-2006 on routes between the Gulf region,Europe andNorth America.

It will give passengers at every seat access to the worldwide web, e-mail, corporate intranets, virtual private networks, live TV and the ability to stay in touch with friends, family and the office.

Until the full new service comes into operation, Etihad will offer the Connexion by Boeing high-speed internet, data and entertainment connectivity through passengers’ Wi-Fi-enabled laptops.

This service is also being installed by several other airlines including JAL, Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways.

Peter Dunkin, Etihad’s UK¬†general manager, said: “With the introduction of this high-speed mobile internet and entertainment connection on board our new aircraft, we are confident that we will raise hospitality standards to a revolutionary new level of service.”