Qantas will tap into the NBN's Sky Muster satellites to offer free wi-fi inflight from next year, the airline announced today.
Qantas has partnered with broadband services provider ViaSat to conduct trials on a single Boeing 737 late this year in expectation of a full rollout across its domestic fleet of A330s and B737s early next year.
The airline will fit its planes with modems and antennas able to receive signals from the first NBN satellite, which launched into orbit late last year and is expected to become operational in late April. A second Sky Muster satellite is scheduled to launch mid this year.
ViaSat will provide the connectivity between the Qantas aircraft and the satellite and ground stations.
Qantas expects the service will provide speeds 10 times faster than current onboard wi-fi.
“You won’t be limited to checking your email or Facebook – it’s going to be about watching the football live, streaming your favourite TV show or movie, catching up on the latest YouTube videos, or shopping online," CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of NBN’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help."
Joyce said the wi-fi service would be offered free to domestic passengers.
The airline is also looking at how to enable high-speed wi-fi for international and regional travellers, it said.