ViaSat has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Qantas Airways to bring in-flight internet connectivity to its passengers on domestic flights.
The agreement represents ViaSat’s first Asia-Pacific airline to select its in-flight internet service, as well as the first airline in the region to choose its single, hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna.
The new service expects to feature speeds that are up to 10 times faster than traditional global ground-based in-flight internet services, allowing Qantas customers to stream movies, TV shows, news and live sports.
Additionally, by using a hybrid Ku/Ka-band array antenna, the internet service will operate across both ViaSat’s global Ku-band network and nbn’s Sky Muster™ high-capacity Ka-band satellites.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said: “Bringing high-speed Wi-Fi to Australia’s domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time – and with ViaSat we now have the right partner to make it happen. Our goal is to give our customers a similar internet experience on board to what they enjoy on the ground.”
Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, ViaSat, added: “As a global broadband services provider we are bringing the best internet service – with the highest capacity, speeds and take-rates – to Qantas passengers, ensuring they enjoy the ultimate in-flight internet experience.
“We know as a premium airline, Qantas must deliver on its promise to bring quality services to its customers, and we are flattered Qantas selected us as its in-flight partner of choice.”
Under the MOU, in-flight internet trials are expected to begin in late 2016 on Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft.
A full roll-out across the Qantas domestic fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing B737s is planned to begin in 2017, with aircraft to be outfitted with in-cabin Wi-Fi hotspots, an internet modem and ViaSat’s satellite antenna and radome technology.
It obtained its first STC for its dual-band Ku/Ka-band antenna last year.
The antenna allows an aircraft to use both Ku and Ka-band satellites from one piece of hardware. This works using ViaSat’s “best available service” premise – similar to the way a cell phone roams between 3G, 4G or LTE, but with seamless satellite network-switching.
ViaSat’s high capacity Ka-band in-flight internet service is currently deployed on nearly 500 commercial aircraft in the U.S.
ViaSat says the service has been recognised with multiple industry awards in delivering the best in-flight internet experience with speeds ranging from 12 to 20 Mbps to each connected device.