Virgin Australia turns on wi-fi for three-month trial

Note the antenna fairing on the upper fuselage of wi-fi equipped Virgin Australia 737-800 VH-YIG. (Canberra Airport)

Virgin Australia has turned on its three-month trial of inflight wireless internet aboard one of its Boeing 737s.

The first flight in which passengers were able to access the wi-fi system saw 737-800 VH-YIG operate VA908 from Brisbane to Sydney on Thursday morning.

Travel news website Australian Business Traveller has been flying onboard the wi-fi equipped aircraft and reported that the first wi-fi flights are “delivering solid 15-20Mbps download” speeds.

Virgin Australia is using Ku-band Optus satellites for its wi-fi service via inflight internet provider Gogo’s ‘2Ku’ dual-antenna technology (one for the forward link and one for the return link) which delivers simultaneous transmissions and faster connectivity compared to standard Ku-band connections.

“We’re looking forward to receiving guest feedback about our inflight connectivity over the next three months to ensure we are able to offer the best possible service in the sky,” group executive Virgin Australia Airlines John Thomas said in a statement on Thursday.

Virgin has signed up Netflix, Stan and Pandora for streaming content for its wi-fi service, and while accessing the internet and streaming content from its content partners will be free for passengers during the trial period, the airline has said previously it would “finalise its business model after considering customer feedback and the results of the testing period”.

“That’s actually part of the feedback that we want to get through the process,” Thomas told media when announcing the airline’s wi-fi plans on March 30.

“I would imagine that what we will see is there will be something if you want to stream videos, there will be something if you just want to use email, there will be something if you want to do texting.”

Virgin first announced plans to equip its fleet of Boeing 737-800s, Airbus A330-200s and Boeing 777-300ERs with inflight internet wi-fi in July 2016.

Qantas, meanwhile, began its inflight internet rollout, which uses Ka-band nbn satellite technology, earlier this month.

Comments

  1. Raymond says

    Much faster than the Qantas demonstration flight… which delivered ‘solid’ 2-6Mbps download speeds!

  2. Mike says

    What will VA do if overwhelming guest feedback asks for inflight wifi to continue to be free? QF has stated its service will be complimentary for customers to use.
    With airfares on some routes not dissimilar, surely, post trial period, “free wifi” could sway passengers towards the airline that has the service included in the airfare.

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