Virgin Aus trialling in-flight Wi-Fi: report

Summary:Virgin Australia is reportedly testing an in-flight Wi-Fi media streaming service for its passengers.

update Virgin Australia is reportedly testing an in-flight Wi-Fi media streaming service for its passengers.

John Borghetti

Virgin Australia chief, John Borghetti
(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Virgin Australia spokesperson Emma Copeman has revealed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline is busy testing a range of new in-flight entertainment services, one of which being Wi-Fi internet.

Virgin Australia later confirmed to ZDNet Australia that the Wi-Fi service currently in the testing phase won't be used for internet access, rather it will be used for the streaming of in-flight entertainment, music and media.

However, the airline said that it was just at the testing stage, with no official launch date or pricing revealed.

Virgin Australia's testing of Wi-Fi streaming gear comes as US carrier United Airlines rolls out similar technology to avoid refitting its entire fleet with costly, new in-flight entertainment players. Passengers will be able to stream movies, TV shows and music right to their Wi-Fi-enabled tablet, laptop or phone with the United Wi-Fi service.

Virgin Australia still has no plans to offer in-flight internet according to a statement, despite the fact that its new 737-800 aircraft were recently spotted sporting global SATCOM gear capable of providing in-flight internet services.

When asked about the gear, Virgin told ZDNet Australia that the Rockwell Collins-made SAT-2200 gear is for flight deck navigation use only.

"SAT-2200 is designed to maintain communications without pilot intervention during all flight phases. Handover between satellites and spot beams is accomplished automatically," Virgin Australia said in a statement.

Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti told ZDNet Australia at a recent Australian-American Chamber of Commerce meeting that customers could expect to see exciting new tech come online for the carrier shortly in its ongoing war with airline giant Qantas.

Updated at 4:26pm, 2 September 2011: added that Virgin Australia is testing the Wi-Fi service for media streaming, rather than internet access.

Topics: Laptops, Mobility, Networking, Tech Industry, Travel Tech, Wi-Fi

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A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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