In an age when many of us are constantly connected to the internet, it seems like an anomaly that wi-fi is still not widely available on planes.
Mind you, it also seems like and anomaly that you can’t use your phone or other mobile device during taxiing, take-off and landing on most airlines. (Apparently the jury is still out on that one; if there’s any chance my device will interfere with the navigational equipment, I’m prepared to forgo its use.)
Anyway, Qantas has just joined the club of airlines that do offer internet to their passengers. Not just internet but, according to its media release, “fast free wifi”. Which, of course, is the very best kind.
According to the release, the new service, on domestic Australian routes, will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sport.
But don’t get too excited just yet.
In-flight trials are expected to begin with a single Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft in late 2016. A full roll-out across Qantas Domestic’s fleet of A330s and B737s is planned from early 2017, with the aircraft to be fitted with modems and the advanced antenna that receives the satellite signal.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is quoted as saying that the goal was to make Australia home to the world’s best inflight wi-fi experience.
“Bringing high-speed wi-fi 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,” Mr Joyce said in the release.
“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of nbn’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help.”