Virgin Adding Wi-Fi Fast Enough to Stream Netflix on Some Flights

The in-flight experience continues to get even more high-tech.

ByALYSSA NEWCOMB
July 8, 2015, 11:49 AM
PHOTO: An Airbus A320 jetliner belonging to Virgin America lands at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, March 2, 2015.
An Airbus A320 jetliner belonging to Virgin America lands at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, March 2, 2015.
Larry MacDougal/AP Photo

— -- Your Wi-Fi in the sky could soon be faster than your connection at some cafes or even at home.

Virgin America is implementing a new Wi-Fi system on some of its A320 aircraft that will be capable of supporting video streaming from YouTube and Netflix, among countless other sites.

While Wi-Fi on the airplane is becoming commonplace, the connection can be slow and spotty at times, making it unsuitable to stream video. Virgin said its latest initiative in partnership with ViaSat Inc., will make in-flight Wi-Fi eight to 10 times faster.

To power the high-speed Wi-Fi, Virgin will use a hybrid Ku/Ka antennae, allowing its aircraft to tap into the Ka satellite used in the domestic United States and the Ku satellite for coverage across the Pacific Ocean.

The network covers 85 percent of the most traveled air routes, Virgin said, and will offer speeds of around 140 gigabits-per-second.

The high-speed Ka satellite powered Internet will be added to 10 new Airbus 320 planes Virgin plans to receive in September, while the airline said the Ku band will be beta-tested on flights to Hawaii beginning earlier next year.

Virgin first implemented Wi-Fi across its entire fleet in 2009. During the test period, customers on select flights will receive free Wi-Fi until a pricing plan is introduced sometime next year, Virgin said.

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