Jetstar goes thin and wireless

Budget airline Jetstar is taking the wireless office to new heights with a thin-client rollout, supported by wireless wide-area network connections at many new locations.

In preparation for its long-haul debut in November, the two-year-old Qantas spinoff is replacing desktop PCs with thin-client terminals from Wyse. At sites with LANs, such as major airports, devices running the embedded Wyse Thin OS operating system will provide thin-client access to networked applications.

At smaller sites, Wyse terminals with embedded Windows XPe will increase local smarts and allow connectivity to external devices.

Jetstar trials have shown that thin-client computing also works over Telstra's EV-DO wireless broadband service, which provides adequate bandwidth - even in regional areas like Queensland's Hervey Bay and Ballina in Northern NSW - more cheaply than conventional, fixed lines.

"Business-grade DSL might cost $1800 a month, and wireless broadband modems $100 a month," Jetstar CIO Stephen Tame said.

"We've found that we can still deliver 97.5 percent availability with a primary and secondary [dial-up] access method. You're not going to get 1Mbps broadband connections [over EV-DO] but you will get 100Kbps, and I only need 40Kbps to run a thin-client."

Eliminating fixed network costs will save Jetstar nearly $170,000 annually, with additional management savings from the thin-clients, according to Tame.

The model is already supporting new Jetstar offices in Townsville, Darwin and Christchurch, NZ, and will be standard for all future Jetstar locations. It will also let Jetstar quickly set up mobile check-in booths during times of peak demand, and smooth the addition of future overseas locations.

"When we start running in airports like Denpasar, Phuket or Ho Chi Minh City, we're going to find very different levels of technology," Tame said.

"This choice means we can look at a country, find out whether the Internet infrastructure is of top quality, and connect whatever way we need to."

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