Qantas' fast, free in-flight Wi-Fi is still a few weeks away from its real-world debut, but it's passed its first proper test with flying colours. A test flight filled with Qantas volunteer staff designed to stress the Aussie carrier's inflight Wi-Fi to its breaking point has delivered impressive results.
140 Qantas crew and staff packed out VH-XZB, the Boeing 737-800 that Qantas is using to test out its imminent inflight Wi-Fi offering. Seriously, this must have been the most courteous and polite and customer-focused plane full of people ever.
The hardware took Qantas techs two weeks to install, including a satellite antenna radome on the plane's exterior, a modem package and four Wi-Fi hotspots placed throughout the length of the cabin. The plane has been back in commercial service for some time, with the Wi-Fi network hidden and in testing by onboard engineers, but this most recent flight was a chance to stress the network to its maximum potential.
Each of the passengers onboard was given a different task -- run a speed test, download an app, stream some video -- and both the onboard Wi-Fi and the satellite network link apparently performed excellently. Typical download speeds, Qantas says, were between 7 and 12Mbps for individual passengers while other downloads were ongoing, suggesting it should be well up to the task of everyday usage on that busy Sydney to Melbourne corridor.
The service uses NBN's Sky Muster satellites, and the carrier says it'll be around 10 times faster than inflight Wi-Fi already in place on other domestic airlines around the globe like Delta in the US. The full fleet of 80 Qantas 737s and A330s will get in-flight Wi-Fi some time throughout 2018.
Qantas expects around 50 per cent of passengers to be using its inflight Wi-Fi and internet service during regular flights. Qantas flights will let customers stream Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify from the air. [Qantas]