Posted on: 08 July 2015 by Mark Howells
Virgin America has revealed it is to install ViaSat Inc.’s (ViaSat) in-flight broadband service, Exede In the Air, on 10 new A320 aircraft expected for delivery in September.
Virgin America will use the power and economics of the ViaSat-1 high capacity Ka-band satellite, offering 140 gigabits-per-second, to deliver a Wi-Fi connectivity solution so that passengers can stream high-quality video content to personal electronic devices. The airline will begin installation of ViaSat’s systems immediately – with the first Ka-band antenna equipped aircraft to take flight in the continental U.S. in September 2015.
With this new technology, Virgin America claims to become the first commercial airline to offer an in-flight internet service that can operate in both Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks on the same aircraft. ViaSat’s new hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna is designed to keep Virgin America’s passengers connected virtually anywhere they fly. In 2016, the airline’s new flights serving Hawaiian destinations will be equipped with the in-flight connectivity service.
“Since 2009, our guests have come to rely on and expect Wi-Fi access on every flight, and we’ve continued to improve our Wi-Fi product offering over the years,” commented Ken Bieler, director of product design and innovation at Virgin America. “Bringing ViaSat’s satellite-based Wi-Fi product to our new delivery aircraft will again allow us to make an industry-leading investment in our product. We are excited about this new technology and the possibility it opens up for Wi-Fi coverage on our new Hawaii flights and for travellers who wish to stream video in-flight.”
During the beta period rollout of the ViaSat product, Virgin America will offer free Wi-Fi access on its first ViaSat equipped aircraft. The airline will introduce pricing for the service in 2016.
“Virgin America is a brand that shares our love of innovation and strives to bring the best service possible to the traveller,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, commercial mobility business, ViaSat. “By leveraging our technology, Virgin America can maximise passenger engagement and increase customer loyalty.”
This news follows Virgin America’s recent announcement that it is upgrading to a new beta version of its Red in-flight entertainment system.