Qantas prepares to move in-flight wi-fi out of trial

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Qantas prepares to move in-flight wi-fi out of trial

Sets up proper network construct.

Qantas is preparating to formally interconnect with the NBN as it looks to commercially launch an NBN-powered in-flight wi-fi service.

NBN Co today amended the terms of its trial agreement with Qantas, inserting new clauses requiring the airline to “acquire facilities access under a [wholesale broadband agreement] or other agreement” between the two parties.

Facilities access is typically needed by a retail service provider (RSP) to interconnect their network with NBN Co’s at designated points of interconnect (PoIs).

Another new clause inserted in the agreement protects Qantas from being immediately charged for the traffic handover services under the WBA until its trial arrangement formally expires.

The new trial agreement also allows the airline to extend the current trial to ten planes, up from an initial two.

Qantas had said back in July that it would kit out eight more planes with the in-flight wi-fi technology by the end of this month; however, until now, its trial arrangements limited the number of air terminals - and therefore planes it could kit out - to two units operating concurrently.

Qantas kitted out its first plane - a B737 - with the trial equipment and internet service back in April. A second plane followed in July.

It pointed to an imminent expansion and move beyond the trial during a recent results presentation.

“The rollout of wi-fi on the Qantas domestic network (A330 and 737 aircraft) is expected to accelerate in late September 2017, once the current trial is complete and final regulatory approval for the new service is confirmed,” the airline said in a statement.

The trial uses ViaSat equipment and internet services from NBN Co’s Sky Muster satellites on specified flight routes.

Qantas has been put under some pressure to get the wi-fi services working from rival Virgin Australia, which is using different technology and Optus connectivity to power domestic in-flight wi-fi services.

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