Qantas’s ambition to lead the way in efficient in-flight wifi has become a reality. From February, the airline will commence trialling fast, free wifi on its domestic flights.
Under a partnership with global broadband services provider ViaSat, Qantas will deliver a new service that will offer speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional onboard wifi. The intention is to provide download speeds in the air similar to what customers are used to on the ground.
“Bringing high-speed wifi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” said Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce.
Customers won’t be limited to just Facebook or email. Mr Joyce said, “It’s going to be about watching the football live, streaming your favourite TV show or movies, catching up on the latest YouTube videos, or shopping online.”
The in-flight trials are expected to begin next month on a single Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft, which will be fitted with necessary equipment to enable high speed wifi. Later in 2017, the airline will facilitate a full roll out across its domestic fleet of A330s and B737s.
ViaSat has already delivered high-speed wifi access on many US airlines that is four times higher than the industry average. Under the deal with Qantas, ViaSat will provide connectivity between the aircraft and the high capacity KA-based satellite and ground stations to allow internet access.
“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of the NBN’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help,” Mr Joyce said.
Qantas says it will consider options for high-speed wifi across its international and regional fleet in due time.