Qantas inflight Wi-Fi now on beta mode

By @mik_mapa on
qantas tarmac
Groundstaff work on the tarmac next to Qantas Airways planes parked at Sydney's Domestic Airport terminal in Australia, November 8, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

Qantas inflight Wi-Fi has now switched on for customers travelling through the airline's Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The internet-capable aircraft is available on Australian domestic flights.

Although in beta mode, the Qantas system offered speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi speed could provide the customers to stream movies, TV shows music and news programs. Customers could also connect with  Foxtel, Stan, Netflix and Spotify. Online activities such as emailing, connecting to social media, watching the latest YouTube clips and shopping online shows would be allowed during the flight. However, voice calls would be prohibited.

“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 Group CEO Alan Joyce said. He said that nbn had made the project possible and they were very pleased to be able to tap into the service. Before the project was launched to the public as a beta mode, testings were conducted for several months. Global broadband services provider ViaSat and the nbn Sky Muster satellite service helped to make the testing successful.

Joyce said that the technology used in the project was a generation ahead of what most airlines around the world have. He said that there was a fair amount of complexity involved in the technology. The CEO said that they decided to install the technology to one aircraft until they were finished fine tuning it. The airline company was expecting to complete the testing by mid-year and to roll it out across its 80 aircraft at the end of 2018.

The airline's CEO said the launch of the inflight Wi-Fi has placed the company in a very strong position. He said that no other domestic airline was offering its passengers next-generation Wi-Fi with a commitment that it would continue to be included in the price of the fare.

Through the Wi-Fi capable aircraft, pilots and cabin crew would be able to get real-time information that would improve the efficiency and passenger experience. Live weather update would be more accessible to help pilots steer clear of turbulence. The technology would also help the pilots to make better use of tailwinds to reduce flying time. Cabin crew would also benefit from the technology as more options would be available to better manage their customers during the flight.

Currently, Qantas is in discussion with suppliers in developing internet product for its international fleet. The company expected to overcome different technical, performance and coverage challenges. It also expected that it could deliver a consistent and high-quality service to meet the customer expectations.

Qantas Inflight Wi-Fi

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