Virgin Australia switching on Wi-Fi for domestic and international flights

Virgin Australia's in-flight Wi-Fi will be fitted onto 90 percent of its aircraft by the second half of 2019 in partnership with Optus and Gogo.

Virgin Australia has announced the rollout of in-flight Wi-Fi on more than 90 percent of its domestic and international aircraft.

Virgin said it plans to equip most of its Boeing 737 and all of its Boeing 777 aircraft with satellite technology by the end of 2018, while the fit-out of its Airbus A330s will be complete by the second half of 2019.

The airline's CEO John Borghetti said passengers on domestic flights will enjoy "a basic level of free Wi-Fi", adding that Virgin will be the first Australian airline to offer in-flight Wi-Fi on international flights.

Free Wi-Fi will not apply to international flights, however.

The airline said it will introduce a two-tiered pricing structure, with one of the key differences between the free and paid tiers being speed.

However, unlike rival airline Qantas, Virgin has not yet announced what speeds it will provide.

Virgin said its three-month trial, which commenced in April, had found 77 percent of guests reported a "high level of satisfaction" with its in-flight Wi-Fi service.

The service was used by 49 percent of guests to log in to their emails, while 43 percent checked their social media accounts. Additionally, 31 percent read the news, 27 percent sent text messages, and 19 percent watched Netflix.

In-flight Wi-Fi will be delivered in partnership with connectivity company Gogo and satellite telecommunications provider Optus.

Optus' satellite division owns the highest number of satellites covering Australia and New Zealand, with five satellites in orbit providing coverage to the region.

Gogo, which also provides in-flight Wi-Fi between Australia and the United States on Delta Air Lines, will deliver simultaneous transmissions by making use of a dual antenna -- one for the forward link and one for the return link.

In early April, rival airline Qantas commercially launched its in-flight Wi-Fi in beta mode on-board its Boeing 737 VH-XZB aircraft that travels between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, with a series of live tests during its first flight seeing speeds between 2.57Mbps and 7.24Mbps download and 0.26Mbps and 0.61Mbps upload.

Originally, the airline was aiming to enable access speeds of up to 20Mbps per passenger, with satellite communications service provider ViaSat looking to provide a service-level guarantee to Qantas of 12Mbps at all times throughout the flight once the service leaves beta mode.

Qantas announced fitting out a second domestic Boeing 737 aircraft with Wi-Fi technology from ViaSat in July, ahead of eight more gaining the equipment by the end of September.

By October, Qantas expects to have completed its testing phase and moved into a broad rollout of the service across its domestic aircraft, with hopes to bring the service to its international fleet in future.

Qantas has guaranteed its Wi-Fi service will remain free of charge once it exits beta mode.

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