Just 32% of Qantas passengers have used free Wi-Fi during trials

Angus Kidman 4 July 2017 NEWS

© Kurt Ams

Unsurprisingly, most people head straight to Facebook.

Qantas began trialling its free Wi-Fi service for domestic flights on a single aircraft in April. A new update from the carrier highlights how the service has been used so far.

To date, 32% of passengers on the VH-XZB craft have logged on during a flight. That's below the 50% Qantas is eventually predicting will use the service, but above the industry average of 10%.

The most popular apps have been email and web browsing, especially on news sites. Social media is also popular, with Facebook leading the pack.

One early complaint about the service concerned the speeds available through the NBN Sky Muster satellite. According to Qantas, the speed situation is improving. "Fine tuning has seen reliability improve to above 98%, meaning we’re seeing fewer dropouts as the aircraft flies at 850kmph across different satellite beams," the update notes.

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What happens next? Qantas says that a second aircraft has now been equipped with ViaSat technology to enable Wi-Fi, and another eight will be upgraded between now and September. However, those aircraft won't have the service switched on immediately, as additional testing will be required. Qantas expects the broader rollout to begin from September. By the end of 2018, Qantas expects to have equipped 80 aircraft.

Wi-Fi services are becoming more common on Australian flights, with Virgin also testing a satellite-based service this year.

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