[Avionics Today 07-07-2015] Virgin America has announced a new technology partnership with ViaSat Inc., that will bring significantly faster WiFi connectivity to the airline's 10 new A320 aircraft deliveries. Through this latest connectivity partnership, Virgin America will tap the power of ViaSat-1, which provides connection speeds of up to 140 gigabits-per-second.
A passenger using Wi-Fi on a Virgin America flight. Photo: Virgin America.
With this new technology, Virgin America will become the first commercial airline to offer an in-flight WiFi service that can operate in both Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks on the same aircraft. By deploying ViaSat's new hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna Virgin America can keep travelers connected virtually anywhere they fly, ensuring guests always have the best available connection in any given location.
"The idea behind our in-flight entertainment and connectivity offerings has always been to offer travelers more content, more interactivity and more of the choices they have access to on the ground," said Ken Bieler, Director of Product Design and Innovation at Virgin America. "Since 2009, our guests have come to rely on and expect WiFi access on every flight, and we've continued to improve our WiFi product offering over the years. Bringing ViaSat's satellite-based WiFi 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 WiFi coverage on our new Hawaii flights and for travelers who wish to stream video in-flight."
Virgin America plans on beginning installations immediately, with the flight of the first Ka-band antenna equipped aircraft scheduled for September 2015. During the beta period rollout of the ViaSat product, Virgin America will offer free WiFi access on its first ViaSat equipped aircraft. The airline will introduce pricing for the service in 2016.