Qantas announced today that they will be fitting their Airbus A380 aircraft with the OnAir SwiftBroadband connectivity suite, providing in-flight internet connectivity on trans-Pacific flights between Australia and the United States. The move brings WiFi connectivity to the fleet type but not GSM/GPRS mobile services so there will not be the option for in-flight voice or SMS/text services. The service trial is expected to start in February.
This is a similar system to that which Emirates will be using on their A380 fleet as announced earlier this week. It will also allow Qantas to remain competitive with United Airlines, which has announced intentions to outfit its entire fleet with WiFi, including the 747s they are flying to Australia.
No word on pricing yet, and the trial in February is for "business and first class passengers" according to one report, though I don’t know how they’ll keep the WiFi signal only on the upper deck. More details as they come out.
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F on QF A380s is downstairs, not upstairs.
To keep the riff-raff 😉 from using it, I suspect they would put a password on the signal, and let F and J pax know what it is.
The tricky part about TPAC wifi is there are few geosynchronous orbiting satellites over the middle of the ocean. The north Atlantic seems easier to cover…which LH has done…but I guess there is a way over the Pacific, too.
If it is a paid service then it seems strange to only open it up to a subset of the passengers. Just sayin’.
As for the satellites, OnAir leverages the SwiftBroadband product from Inmarsat. The coverage is actually split between the Americas and the Asia-Pacific regions and will switch mid-flight. The SwiftBroadband service is supported by only three satellites, one for each region (the third region is EMEA).
The Lufthansa FlyNet service is provided by Panasonic (who will also provide the United service on part of the fleet). It is Ku-band and theoretically faster than the SwiftBroadband product. It also uses a different collection of satellites to provide the services.
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