Qantas is looking at adding wi-fi internet to a larger number of aircraft in its domestic and international fleet as it prepares for a trial of the service at the end of 2016 that will include testing live streaming of cricket matches.
In February, the airline announced plans to roll out free high-speed wi-fi internet access from 2017 on its domestic fleet of Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s. The service would be provided free to all passengers.
Internet connectivity would be provided by ViaSat’s global satellite network and the National Broadband Network’s Sky Muster satellites, with the technology to be tested on board a Boeing 737-800 in late 2016.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the satellites, which use the high capacity Ka-band, would deliver internet speeds 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi.
The trials would also test live streaming of cricket matches in partnership with Cricket Australia.
“We believe our customers want reliable, fast wi-fi and as I said one of our trials will involve us streaming cricket on the aircraft so we will be testing that to the full extent,” Joyce told reporters at the company’s 2015/16 results presentation on Wednesday, where he handed down a record full year profit.
“I think we are expecting 12 megabits per second type of speed on this. That’s phenomenal and if that happens, which we believe it will, that will be a great service to our customers domestically.
“A flight from Sydney to Perth should be enough time to catch an entire match of Twenty20, which is fitting when you’re flying on the Sprit of Australia.”
While Qantas said in February the rollout would cover 737s and A330s, Joyce said the airline was now looking at also offering wi-fi on regional and international aircraft.
“We’re in the final stages of scoping wi-fi for our QantasLink fleet of 717s, F100s and turboprops, as well as our international fleet,” Joyce said.
“There are over 200 Qantas aircraft and some complex technical issues to work through – so it’s a big job.”
Previously, the airline has also talked up the operational benefits of onboard wi-fi, with flight operations and engineering staff exploring the untapped potential of on board connectivity across the business from real-time monitoring of the performance of the aircraft, dealing with irregular operations before passengers walk off the aircraft and providing more weather-related information to pilots en route.