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Virgin Australia mulls inflight internet and WiFi media streaming

By danwarne     Filed under: inflight, internet, inflight internet, inflight tech, wi-fi, wireless internet, Virgin Australia, inflight wi-fi


Virgin Australia has added media streaming to its wishlist of inflight services, alongside Internet access.

"We're investigating WiFi for both inflight internet access and media streaming" airline spokeswoman Emma Copeman told Australian Business Traveller. 

Media streaming is a leading-edge technology in the inflight entertainment space, allowing passengers to tune into airline-supplied content such as movies, TV shows and music on their own laptop, tablet or smartphone.

The programs would be beamed wirelessly throughout the aircraft.

Virgin Australia's inflight entertainment system is still in development and remains under wraps, although airline spokespeople have described the goals to Australian Business Traveller in very enthusiastic, set-the-bar-high terms.


Qantas-challenger Virgin Australia is evaluating inflight internet for domestic flights, with the possibility of extending the service to international routes.

"We understand the importance of (inflight Internet) for our guests and we are working hard to ensure we provide a quality product," airline spokeswoman Emma Copeman told Australian Business Traveller. "We are currently evaluating a number of inflight entertainment options, including Wi-Fi."

"We have recently brought in new Boeing 737 aircraft with satellite communication capability which will provide us with aircraft connectivity options down the track."

However, Copeman said the airline says it isn't ready to announce a launch date or reveal how much the service would cost.

Providing inflight internet would be a coup for Virgin as it attempts to snare 20% of Australia's business travel market from Qantas, as passengers could be far more productive during flights -- especially on the cross-country routes from Sydney and Melbourne to Perth, which would afford some four hours of online time.

Virgin is also considering offering wireless internet for overseas flights, as the Virgin Australia brand grows to encompass V Australia and the airline's international partner codeshare routes.

However, providing inflight internet can be challenging on Asia-Pacific routes. Any aircraft that flies over China, for example, has to comply with that country's tough internet restrictions.

Virgin Australia says that communication restrictions in international airspace are part of its assessment of options, and it will comply with foreign government requirements.

Qantas has also confirmed its plans for inflight internet for both domestic and international services, having recently completed what an airline spokeswoman called "a fleet-wide connectivity review".

In June Qantas polled passengers on its select 'customer experience panel' on how they would typically use in-flight Internet and also asked them how much they would pay for the service.


About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 6/9/11 by Jack

Exciting times ahead. You ssaid in your launch day tour of the new 737, each one of these seats will be fitted with a video screen, do you live up to that statment, by telling me that the new system will be seatback?

1 on 7/9/11 by John

Virgin are still keeping mum on that one. As Dan said, 

"Virgin Australia's inflight entertainment system is still in development and remains under wraps, although airline spokespeople have described the goals to Australian Business Traveller in very enthusiastic, set-the-bar-high terms."

The minute we know more, you'll know more.


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