Virgin America is taking on the woes of snail-like in-flight Wi-Fi, announcing that it will begin trialing new tech that could give passengers connectivity fast enough to stream videos from services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.
A new partnership with ViaSat will allow the airline to leverage ViaSat’s Ku/Ka-band antenna, which, according to Virgin America, includes “the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world offering 140 gigabits-per-second.”
“ViaSat’s technology will deliver internet speeds that are typically 8- to 10-times faster than any other in-flight WiFi system – allowing travelers to experience internet speeds similar to what they have at home, with the freedom to watch, stream video and shop directly on any connected device when in-flight,” Virgin America said in its announcement.
ViaSat’s VP and GM for Commercial Mobility said that with the company’s technology, passengers could get “an in-flight, online experience just like they’d get on the ground – including streaming high-quality video.”
Trails for speed
Virgin America will begin trails with one aircraft starting in September, while the roll-out will continue next year on 10 of the airline’s new A320 aircrafts scheduled for Hawaiian routes.
Virgin America hasn’t yet decided if it will eventually roll-out the new tech to the rest of its fleet.
During trials, the airline will offer free Wi-Fi to passengers on the first ViaSat-equipped aircraft, with pricing to be introduced next year with the final roll-out.
Hopefully, all of this signals of a time where we won’t be stuck on loading pages and dropped connections while traveling across the world.