Qantas In-Flight WiFi Broadband Nears Prime Time

Qantas In-Flight WiFi Broadband Nears Prime Time

Results from Qantas’ first passenger internet wi-fi trial have been encouraging says the company – and soon the service will be made available on domestic flights.

Qantas in-flight wi-fi internet broadbandImage: Qantas

Qantas says passengers achieved typical download speeds of between seven and 12 Mbps (megabits per second) to each connected device during the trial – this is fast enough for streaming video at HD quality.

A seamless streaming experience was experienced for the most part during the three hour test flight, but when everyone was downloading at the same time at one point, it did stretch resources – although Qantas says this scenario wouldn’t occur in normal operation.

In real-world operations, Qantas expects around half of the aircraft’s passengers to be connected via a single device at any one time. For the test, all of the passengers were connected with an average of 1.6 devices each. 140 people were on board, so more than 200 devices connected to the system.

“We gathered a huge amount of user data from this test flight, and we’re now working to make final adjustments ahead of inviting customers to test, then use the system,” said Qantas. “We expect that will happen in the next few weeks.”

The internet connectivity test occurred in a Boeing 737-800, which had a satellite antenna housed in a streamlined fibreglass radome installed in November last year, along with multiple wireless access points in the cabin and other necessary hardware.

That installation turned out to be quite a task, taking 10 engineers around 12 working days. No doubt with the valuable experience under their belts, subsequent installations will be much faster.

The company is planning to roll out Wi-Fi  across 80 of its Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft  from the middle of this year.

The service will be free and passengers will also be able to access Foxtel services free during their flight and for the following three days. Netflix and Spotify will offer 30-day free trial to passengers who subscribe to the service.

Qantas says it will be the first of the three largest airlines in the Oceania to roll out wi-fi broadband in 2017; the other two being Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.


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