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Qantas Turns On Fast, Free, Gate-to-Gate In-flight Wi-Fi

April 11, 2017 Aviation No Comments Email Email

Qantas, working with global broadband services and technology company, ViaSat Inc. and nbn, Australia’s broadband network service provider, turned on fast, free, gate-to-gate in-flight Wi-Fi on its ViaSat-equipped Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

First in-flight Wi-Fi trial users were encouraged to stream their favorite TV shows or movies; listen to their playlists; engage on social media; watch live sports; read the latest stories on various news magazine sites; and surf the internet. For weeks, Qantas, ViaSat and nbn have been conducting in-flight Wi-Fi tests on the trial aircraft, as they prepare to launch into production later this year.

Don Buchman, vice president and general manager of ViaSat’s Commercial Mobility business commented, “Today represents the culmination of three companies collaboratively working together, committed to bringing consumers flying in Australia the best internet experiences in the skies. 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. As we prepare to launch the official in-flight Wi-Fi production system, we will continue to test the trial aircraft and fine-tune the network with the goal to continually enhance the end-user experience.”

Connecting Everyone Onboard
By trialing the expected service, ViaSat can gain important feedback from passengers and crew to incorporate into the final product. The trial also provides the opportunity for ViaSat to develop applications for passengers, cabin and flight crews, pilots and operational ground crews. For example, cabin crews can gain transfer information to ease passengers’ travel experiences; flight crews can access aircraft data to improve operations and maximize efficiencies while in flight; and pilots can access more detailed live weather data, to make better use of tailwinds to reduce flying time.

Access to Real Internet Experiences at 35,000 feet
ViaSat is recognized as providing the best in-flight internet in the sky, with typical speeds 10 times faster than traditional in-flight Wi-Fi services. The faster connection speeds – which enable streaming – are made possible through the nbn Sky Muster™ satellites, the only satellites servicing Australia with the capacity to offer enhanced services. The Sky Muster satellites represent a significant upgrade over older satellite technology accessed by most airlines around the world. The in-flight internet service uses excess idle data capacity, with the signal reaching the aircraft as it flies through the satellites’ spot beams. ViaSat and nbn have had a long-standing partnership, as ViaSat designed and built the ground infrastructure portion of the nbn satellite network.

The ViaSat satellite equipment is currently installed and flying on one trial Qantas Boeing 737-800 aircraft connected to the ViaSat/nbn test network. The full production internet system is expected to be switched on later this calendar year. The rest of the airline’s domestic fleet of Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft is projected to be outfitted with the ViaSat equipment starting in 2017.

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