Qatar ‘Super Wi-Fi’ ends the inflight internet crawl

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May 15, 2018
Qatar broadband wi-fi
Qatar is rolling out broadband to its A350s and B777s. Photo: Airbus

Qatar Airways says its new “Super Wi-Fi”’ can reach speeds topping 50 megabits per second, a feat that would make it better than many home broadband services.

The inflight broadband is being progressively rolled out on the Doha-based carrier’s Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft and uses Inmarsat’s GX Aviation technology.

The kind of download speeds Qatar is claiming would allow passengers to do everything they do at home, including logging on to streaming services such as Netflix.

Better still, Qatar gives you the service free for the first hour with a charge of $US10 for an entire flight if you want to extend.

Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline was the first carrier in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to allow high-speed broadband connectivity providing rich content without restriction.

“Business travelers in particular will be able to maximize their ‘office in the sky’ with seamless continuity,’’ he said.

Inmarsat is the same company that provides the spaced-based tracking service that monitors the airline’s flights worldwide.

It GX service offers users the newer satellite-based Ka-band technology that uses spot beams to provide “a foundation layer” of global coverage designed to serve a high-speed global audience.

It also offers the flexibility to add and redirect bandwidth where airlines need it most across hubs and traffic hotspots, according to Inmarsat.

“This unprecedented service adds to the airline’s award-winning, five-star onboard experience by allowing passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights,”  Inmarsat Aviation president Philip Balaam said.

A number of competing inflight Internet providers have set up with the field split between Ka-band technology and a newer, faster version of the older Ku-band services.

They serve a growing number of airlines offering internet access: the Routehappy WiFi report in January showing the service was on 82 airlines covering half of global airline capacity in available seat miles.

Read: Resistance is futile as in-flight internet becomes ubiquitous.

That was 17 percent up on the previous year’s report, with 16 percent of airlines offering the fastest speeds.