Qantas offers NBN-based in-flight streaming

Strikes deals with Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify

Qantas will offer its passengers free access to content from Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify on domestic flights, beginning in late February.

The airline announced in February 2016 that, thanks to a deal with ViaSat, it intended to offer free Wi-Fi on domestic flights leveraging NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service.

The airline today said it had struck deals with the three services to offer free content to passengers (though new Spotify and Netflix customers will have to sign up for a subscription).

Qantas installed the first first ViaSat equipment on Boeing 737 aircraft in November. The service will be extended to cover all of its 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft flying domestic routes from the middle of 2017.

In addition to offering Internet access to passengers, Qantas has been looking at how its crew can use in-flight Wi-Fi, such as pilots employing it to access real-time weather information.

The Wi-Fi services uses idle data capacity on NBN’s satellite service. NBN’s chief customer officer, John Simon, said that the service will not impact National Broadband Network satellite services for ground users.

Qantas says it is currently in negotiations to offer Wi-Fi services on international and regional flights.

Royal Flying Doctors Service

Minister for regional communications, Fiona Nash, today said the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) could potentially use NBN’s Sky Muster satellites for in-flight Internet.

“This opens the door to in-flight telehealth on the Flying Doctors’ planes,” Nash said in a statement.

“The idea of a Flying Doctor’s plane over the outback sending live data to a specialist in say Sydney or Melbourne, who gives instant advice which saves a life, is just so exciting. The idea of emergency services crews being able to do the same sort of thing during say a bushfire or other natural disaster is fantastic.”

RFDS has met with NBN about trialling in-flight broadband.

NBN’s service comprises two satellites: Sky Muster and Sky Muster II. Sky Muster launched in October 2015. Sky Muster II launched in October last year. The service offers wholesale speeds of 25/5Mbps for end users.

The two satellites offer combined bandwidth of 135 gigabits per second.

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