Qantas cancels launch of free inflight wi-fi

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Qantas cancels launch of free inflight wi-fi

Cites stability issues.

Qantas has cancelled its planned launch of free inflight wi-fi this week due to "stability issues" with the service.

The airline has been testing the service internally since February, after having fitted a Boeing 737 with the satellite antenna and electronics hardware.

It used a special charter flight between Sydney and Brisbane to load test the service with 140 staff and 200 devices, finding typical download speeds of between 7 and 12 Mbps for each device.

At the time it said it expected to open the service to customer trials within weeks.

But it has been forced to cancel this week's scheduled debut, which included a media launch and test flight on Monday 27 March, due to issues with the stability of the service.

"We’ve been testing in-flight wif-fi for several weeks and the performance has been strong," Qantas said in a statement.

"We were preparing to open it up to media and customers this week as we continue our fine-tuning over the next few months, but some stability issues have emerged that we need to fix before customers can use it.

"We’re working with NBN and ViaSat to fix these issues very soon. We remain on track for a broader roll out to the Qantas domestic fleet from mid-2017."

The Qantas wi-fi service is backed by NBN Co's Sky Muster satellite service, while ViaSat provides the connectivity between the Qantas aircraft and the satellite and ground stations.

NBN Co has been struggling with the performance of its Sky Muster service since the first satellite launched in October 2015.

Many of the reported outages and dropouts are a result of software bugs that manifested when the service was put under load from users connecting in force.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow recently admitted the satellite service was suffering an “exorbitant” number of network failures that could take another year to rectify.

The network builder this month threw resources at the problem via a hiring spree for new engineers and solution architects.

An NBN Co spokesperson today said there were "no observable issues" on its satellite service. 

This week's delay is the second for the airline's wi-fi service, which had previously been scheduled to launch for trial in early February.

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