Qantas has great news for passengers looking to stay connected even when flying as they announce they're one step closer to providing free and fast Wi-Fi in the skies.
The Aussie airline equipped one of their Boeing 737-800 aircraft with technology to connect it to the NBN Co's Sky Muster satellites, which allow an onboard hotspot that passengers can connect to. Several rounds of testing on the ground have already been performed and the revamped aircraft is ready to rotate back into service for inflight tests.
"We are very excited that we are a step closer to introducing our fast and free inflight Wi-Fi," said Qantas' Head of Customer Experience Phil Capps. "Putting Wi-Fi on board the aircraft has been an extraordinary task for the team. It requires a significant amount of testing to ensure that, first and foremost, the safety of the installation meets Qantas' stringent standards, as well as ensuring the system will deliver the level of performance we expect at this stage of the trial."
The installation took a team of 10 Brisbane-based engineers 900 man hours to complete, which includes multiple wireless access points. This means that passengers throughout the plane will receive the same signal strength.
Initial testing produced speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional onboard Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to surf in the skies at the same speeds you would typically see in any home or office Internet services. These speeds would make it possible to download movies, TV shows and even live sporting events without issue.
The newly fitted Boeing 737 will be flying routes along Australia's east coast between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. And while it may be tempting to plan your next business trip around catching one of these flights, Qantas will refrain from promoting the new Qantas Wi-Fi service for now to avoid disappointment when aircraft are swapped between routes.
The new technology fittings are expected to be rolled out across the entire Qantas domestic fleet starting in mid-2017 with a completion date in 2018. Qantas is also currently in talks with suppliers to extend the Wi-Fi services to its international and regional fleets.