Qantas has announced that it will soon be able to offer its passengers access to free inflight Wi-Fi capable of delivering an internet connection as quickly as a broadband connection on the ground.
The carrier revealed that it will trial the introduction of the new service this year on a Boeing 737. The aircraft will be fitted with antenna and modems that will have the capacity to tap into the national broadband network’s satellites. The upgrade will then be rolled out from early next year on Qantas’s domestic fleet of A330s and B737s. The service is being delivered under a new deal with US internet provider ViaSat.
Alan Joyce, Qantas Chief Executive said it has been an ambition of the airline to bring high-speed Wi-Fi to its domestic market and it is now possible because of access to the right technology. He pointed out how the sheer size of Australia as a country has created major challenges for this type of inflight connectivity. However NBN’s launch of its satellite recently has opened up the opportunity which, with ViaSat’s expertise, they can now take advantage of.
It means that passengers will experience internet speeds of up to ten times faster than conventional in-flight Wi-Fi. This allows travellers to stream video or watch live news and sport broadcasts. Mr Joyce said the new service will mean that passengers won’t be limited to checking Facebook or emails and they will in fact be able to do online what they do on the ground.
The upcoming test will also be used to see the social acceptability of such services as Skype or FaceTime before Qantas makes a final decision on such policy. The CEO said past reaction has been mixed to phone calls onboard and that the company will get passenger feedback on what they want. “Nothing has been decided on that,” he stressed.
Qantas is also looking at its options for delivering similar Wi-Fi services to its regional and international fleet.