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What:Beginning this September, Virgin America’s new partnership with communications company ViaSat will bring significantly faster Wi-Fi connectivity to the airline’s 10 new A320 aircrafts. The technology delivers Internet speeds about eight to 10 times faster than other in-flight Wi-Fi systems, which means passengers can now stream high-quality, lag-free video in the sky.
Why It Matters:Besides allowing fliers to occupy themselves with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or other video-streaming services during a flight, Virgin’s new Wi-Fi technology also ups the ante for customer engagement. As many airlines continue to raise prices or cut perks and personalized services, Virgin distinguishes itself by focusing on the passenger experience. Allowing a traveler to finally catch up on the latest season of “House of Cards” is a surefire way to drive brand loyalty.
Fast Facts:-ViaSat-1 is the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world, offering 140 gigabits per second.
-With this new technology, Virgin America will become the first commercial airline to offer an in-flight Wi-Fi service that can operate in both Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks on the same aircraft.
-Travelers will experience internet speeds similar to what they have at home, and they can stream video and shop directly on any connected device when in flight.
-Virgin aircraft scheduled for Hawaii flights will be outfitted with ViaSat’s hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna in early 2016.
-During the beta period rollout of the system, Virgin will offer free Wi-Fi access on its first ViaSat equipped aircraft. The airline will introduce pricing for the service in 2016.
What They Are Saying:“We can empower airlines to engage all of their guests in an in-flight, online experience just like they’d get on the ground, including streaming high quality video,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager of commercial mobility business for ViaSat. “Virgin America is a brand that shares our love of innovation and strives to bring the best service possible to the traveler. By leveraging our technology, Virgin America can maximize passenger engagement and increase customer loyalty.”