Published: Sat, April 08, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Qantas kicks off commercial in-flight Wi-Fi with speeds of around 7Mbps

Qantas kicks off commercial in-flight Wi-Fi with speeds of around 7Mbps

"Inflight wi-fi has been on our wish list for quite a while, but the sheer size of Australia meant it was hard to offer a service that was fast and reliable".

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce hailed Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) for making in-flight Wi-Fi possible through its Sky Muster satellite service.

But Joyce said Qantas was in a strong position with no other no other domestic airline offering passengers next-generation Wi-Fi with a commitment it would continue to be included in the price of the fare.

The system uses the newer Ka-band technology to deliver speeds that allow customers to use streaming services such as Stan, Netflix, Foxtel and Spotify.

Virgin has signed up Netflix, Stan and Pandora for streaming content for its wifi service.

'On flights between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, where we have a lot of business travellers, we expect the system to get a real work out with email and web browsing. But the company will ban voice calls on flights. These services usually require a subscription to use but, from today, passengers will have access via a Qantas login and won't need existing accounts.

In a statement the airline said testing is expected to be completed by mid-year.

If you're curious about the not-so-technical Wi-Fi info offered by Qantas, let's start by telling you it's absolutely free.

Pilots last week used the conditions resulting from Cyclone Debbie to test this system in the air.

The technology will then be installed on Qantas' domestic fleet of Airbus 330s and Boeng 737s, and that is expected to be completed at the end of 2018.

The airline, which is also in talks with suppliers to develop an internet product for its global fleet, estimates up to 15,000 customers per month will experience the Wi-Fi service during the initial test.

Mr Joyce hosted a chartered flight over NSW, with passengers invited to test the wi-fi before it went live on selected commercial flights from Friday.

Availability The ViaSat satellite equipment is now installed and flying on one trial Qantas Boeing 737-800 aircraft connected to the ViaSat/nbn test network. We're building Qantas a mobility service platform to scale, ensuring passengers, cabin crew members and pilots on-board, as well as flight and operational crew members on the ground have the opportunity to access a fast, high-quality internet connection. The Company's innovations in designing highest-capacity satellites and secure ground infrastructure and terminal technologies coupled with its worldwide network of managed Wi-Fi hotspots enable ViaSat to deliver a best available network that extends the reach and accessibility of broadband internet service, globally.

Qantas first partnered with satellite communications service provider ViaSat to deliver the Wi-Fi service using NBN's satellite service in February past year. It would also help avoid or deal with medical issues during flights.

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