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Virgin does wireless content streaming, waiting on in-flight internet

Entertainment content can now be streamed to passengers' personal devices, but the airline is still weighing up options in terms of offering in-flight internet.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Virgin Australia is testing out a wireless in-flight entertainment system on passenger-owned Apple iPads and iPhones, but is still contemplating whether to offer in-flight internet.

The airline has released an app that will allow passengers aboard its Boeing 737-800 aircraft, under the registration code of VH-YID, to stream over 300 hours of movies, music, and TV shows to their own Apple smartphones or tablets.

Virgin is only trialling it on one aircraft at this stage, until February 2013, but plans to deploy the service on domestic and short-haul international flights later down the track.

The wireless in-flight entertainment-streaming service is powered by technology that was developed by Lufthansa Systems. The service and the app itself are free, according to Virgin. The airline already does wireless content streaming, through its own Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices.

Despite expressing interest in serving up in-flight internet earlier in the year, Virgin still has no solid plans to offer that service to passengers.

"In terms of internet, we continue to work with a range of suppliers to evaluate options in the connectivity space," a Virgin spokesperson told ZDNet.

Qantas recently canned its in-flight internet plans after an unsuccessful trial. The airline cited a lack of interest from passengers as the reason, since most people preferred to sleep rather than surf the web on long-haul flights.

Australian airlines are falling behind their international counterparts when it comes to on-board internet. Virgin America and United both offer internet on some of their flights through Gogo.

Meanwhile, Delta Airways has said that it will be bringing internet through Wi-Fi on its international flights.

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