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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Virgin Australia to Start Inflight WiFi in October

By David Flynn

Virgin Australia will begin testing inflight wifi streaming in October, beaming movies, TV shows and music to Samsung tablets and eventually to passenger’s own tablets, laptops and smartphones.

“We will be testing our first aircraft in October, with fit-out to the rest of the fleet very quickly after that, and wifi streaming will be available on all domestic aircraft within a very short time after that” says Virgin CEO John Borghetti.

Virgin will use Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect technology, which was previously trialled by Qantas in its initial Q Streaming tests, although Qantas subsequently chose Panasonic’s eXW system for its wider rollout.

The full roster of BYO devices is expected to include iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and smartphones, all of which will use a free app to play the content, along with Windows and Mac notebooks.

The tablets will be offered free for business class travellers “and, on flights over three hours, flexi fare guests, subject to availability”, although the spokesperson was unable to advise if economy passengers would need to pay a rental free.

Tablets for A330s as well as Boeing 737s

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller earlier this year, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said he expected the wifi roll-out to happen “very quickly”, as the process for installing Lufthansa BoardConnect in each aircraft  isn’t especially time-consuming.

“To fit an aircraft, you can do it overnight and it only takes two to three nights” Borghetti explained. “So when the aircraft’s parked at night you do the work, and within two or three nights you’ve done an aeroplane. So effectively you can move very quickly and do the whole fleet.”

“And when I say the whole fleet,” Borghetti emphasises, “I don’t just mean the 737-800s, I mean the whole fleet, and I include the A330s on that, very quickly, within 12 to 18 months.”

Borghetti is also bullish on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 versus Apple’s iPad 2, telling Australian Business Traveller that “the Samsung tablet is being recognised as a better product than Apple.”

“The [Android-based] system is a plus,” he adds, along with the larger 10.1 inch display. “It’s (also) much thinner… overall it’s a better product.”


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