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Qantas customers on WiFi enabled domestic flights will be able to watch their favourite shows, avoid missing out on live sport and listen to almost any song they like, with Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify coming on board to provide content in 2017.
With speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional inflight WiFi, Qantas will offer customers video and audio streaming when the service is switched on its first domestic aircraft later in February 2017. The rest of the airline’s fleet of domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft will follow from mid-2017 onwards.
The faster connection speeds – which enable streaming – are made possible through the nbn Sky Muster satellite service and represents a significant upgrade over older satellite technology accessed by most airlines around the world. The service uses idle data capacity, with the signal reaching the aircraft as it flies through the satellite’s 101 spot beams across Australia.
Qantas Group Executive of Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Olivia Wirth, said that fast, free Internet would open up a huge range of options for customers inflight. “We know that email, online shopping and general web browsing will be popular uses when we switch on WiFi, but what a lot of people relish about flying is being able to catch up on their favourite TV shows or watch movies they didn’t get to see at the cinema,” she suggested. “Foxtel and Netflix both have huge catalogues that are expanding all the time, so there will be no shortage of entertainment on board.”
“The usage data from the collection of albums we already have on our aircraft shows that music is a great way for passengers to relax as they watch the world fly by. Spotify will open this up so you can listen to virtually any song you like,” she added.
While Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify are all paid subscription services, they will offer free access to Qantas customers on and off the aircraft for between three days and one month after their Qantas flight. Specifically:
Customers will log on to the Qantas inflight WiFi via their own devices, and will be greeted by a landing page with a range of options. As well as links to access Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel, this page will feature real-time flight data; hotel, restaurant and transport options at your destination; the latest weather; and personalised information linked to your itinerary and Frequent Flyer account. Streaming of Sky News Australia will also be available.
Qantas is in discussion with a range of content partners on ways to improve the on-board experience using Wi-Fi.
In November 2016, Qantas installed ViaSat satellite-receiving equipment on its first 737 to be WiFi enabled. Hardware and software testing is underway on this aircraft, ahead of the service being switched on for customers soon.
Brian Walsh, Executive Director of Television at Foxtel said: “We are delighted to be able to extend our partnership with Qantas to support this great new service for passengers. With access to Foxtel both while flying and on the ground afterwards, Qantas passengers will enjoy some of the best live and on-demand content that Foxtel has to offer.”
“Qantas passengers will also have access to Foxtel’s deep and extensive library of new and returning signature drama and entertainment programming. In February and March alone these include HBO’s highly anticipated new drama Big Little Lies, staring Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon, The Walking Dead, Call the Midwife, The Real Housewives of Sydney, Selling Houses Australia, The Flash, Arrow, Divorce, The Mick, Gogglebox and much more, plus all past episodes of blockbusters such as Game of Thrones.”
“Qantas is at the forefront of providing free and fast inflight WiFi to their Australian customers,” said Bill Holmes, Netflix’s global head of business development. “Now passengers can settle in and enjoy The Crown, Black Mirror and more shows and movies on their own devices, whenever they want.”
“Travel is an experience made better with music and at 40,000 feet music fans will now be able to access all their favourite Spotify playlists or discover a world of music from our catalogue of over 30 million tracks,” said Kate Vale, Managing Director at Spotify Australia & New Zealand. “We are excited to be working with Qantas on innovating and enhancing the customer experience in-flight by offering access to Spotify’s award-winning service on WiFi enabled Qantas flights,” she added.