Qantas customers on Wi-Fi-enabled domestic flights will have free access to Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify content when the relevant technology becomes available on a first flight this month, before rolling out to the rest of the carrier’s domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet from mid-2017 onwards.
The Australian airline will offer video and audio streaming with speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional inflight Wi-Fi, made possible through the nbn Sky Muster satellite service. The technology uses idle data capacity, where signals reach the aircraft as it flies through the satellite’s 101 spot beams across Australia.
While Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify are all paid subscription services, they will offer free access to Qantas customers on and off the aircraft.
Specifically, Foxtel will offer three days’ free access to its Foxtel app every time a customer flies, allowing customers to stream live sports, news and TV shows as well as its full range of on-demand content. No sign-up to a subscription is required.
Netflix will give new customers access to the entire Netflix service as part of a 30-day free trial (sign-up required). Existing Netflix members only need to log in to continue watching at no extra charge.
Spotify will provide a 30-day free trial of its Premium music service, which has no ads, shuffle play and unlimited skips (sign-up required).
Customers log on to the Qantas inflight Wi-Fi via their own devices. On the landing page, they are presented with links to access Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel, as well as real-time flight data; hotel, restaurant and transport options at the destination; the latest weather; and personalised information linked to passenger itinerary and Frequent Flyer account.
Streaming of Sky News Australia will also be available.
In November 2016, Qantas installed ViaSat satellite-receiving equipment on its first Wi-Fi enabled Boeing 737. Hardware and software testing is underway on this aircraft, ahead of the service being launched.
Qantas is in talks with suppliers to extend Wi-Fi services to its international and regional (QantasLink) fleets to develop a product that can overcome technical, performance and coverage challenges, including options for Wi-Fi over large stretches over water.