In-flight Wi-Fi is notorious for being slow and unreliable but Qantas has been working to letting its passengers access faster internet speeds in the air. It recently tested its in-flight Wi-Fi system on a chartered flight from Sydney to Brisbane and managed to get some impressive results.
The 140 passengers on the flight were all Qantas staff and they were asked to connect to the available Wi-Fi and download an app during the three-hour flight. Over 200 devices were connected to the system. According to Qantas:
Typical download speeds were between 7 and 12 megabits per second to each connected device. (You need about 1.5Mbps to comfortably stream movies onto most handheld devices.)
Bear in mind Qantas expects that, typically, not everybody on a flight would want to use the on-board Wi-Fi so it may be possible to achieve faster speeds per device. However, performance will vary depending on the conditions of the flight. The Qantas staff trial flight managed to avoid a few storms and turbulence.
"We gathered a huge amount of user data from this test flight, and we’re now working to make final adjustments ahead of inviting customers to test, then use the system," Qantas said.
The airline is planning to start public trials for its in-flight Wi-Fi system in the coming weeks. The aim is to start rolling the system out across 80 domestic aircraft from mid-2017. The service will be offered for free to passengers.
Qantas uses the NBN Sky Muster and ViaSat satellite services to deliver the on-board internet service.