Telstra tests 4G inflight Internet for Sydney-Melbourne route

By Chris Chamberlin, May 12 2014

Inflight Internet is a step closer for Australian travellers with Telstra trialling a new 4G system capable of delivering broadband speeds to domestic flights.

Curiously dubbed 'Skinet', the test network already has four dedicated mobile sites in operation covering most of the commercial air corridor between Sydney and Melbourne.

“We were able to successfully establish and maintain data connections, achieving a maximum data throughput of 15 Mbps, with an average throughput around 10 Mbps,” reveals Mike Wright, Telstra’s Executive Director, Networks.

Skywards-facing antennas at these 4G base stations beam signals to and from aircraft, which need to be fitted with a special 'shark fin' antenna to connect to the ground network.

Integration with a plane's own wi-fi network would also be necessary for passengers to use inflight Internet, however both Qantas and Virgin Australia already operate onboard wi-fi for their streaming entertainment services which could be used for internet access.

“We will look to do additional tests later this year and take those results into account as we explore the possible economics around building a nationwide, commercial LTE network in the sky,” Wright says.

With the network still in its early stages, a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that "it's not something we're considering at this point.

"We’ll certainly be watching these trials with interest, but our understanding is that it will be some time before a commercial product is available," the spokesperson added.

Virgin Australia has the same outlook, with "no current plans to introduce internet connectivity in the immediate future," a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 582

So how long until Skinet becomes self aware, takes control of a few drones and lauches pre-emptive strike on Russia? :D

I think you'd first have to get a 'y' in there to make it Terminator-esque... :)

Ah Peter you beat me to it! LOL

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Seriously though. Has no one in Telstra marketing watched any of the Terminator films?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 285

Not soon enough...

Terminator - Skinet, the day the machines took over...

12 May 2014

Total posts 1

What has it got to do with skiing though? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

LOL! It's so random either way.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Apr 2014

Total posts 37

Just deploy Ku-band connectivity, and trans-continental flights and even international flights are sorted with an internet connection instead of just the SYD-MEL corridor..

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Though limited to "corridors" it is far better approach than sattelite internet - it can be cheap (ultimatelly free) and indeed it can be fast enough for youtube and skype.


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