Virgin America planes to get wifi fast enough to stream Netflix

The new internet will be added to 10 planes later this year, and could be 30 times faster than most other plane connections

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The Independent Tech

Virgin America is to add new wifi systems to its planes that could make them faster than many houses.

Internet connections on planes are now long-established — but many of them are very slow. Virgin America says that its new technology will make them fast enough to let people watch whatever they want over the internet.

The new technology will be fast enough to let people stream videos through Netflix and other services, and will begin rolling out later this year. It will be added to 10 planes in September, and tests will begin on flights to Hawaii in 2016.

To power the fast internet, the company uses two satellites, named Ka and Ku. Ka is used in the domestic US and will give speeds that are “30 times the speed of the original ATG that most airlines still fly, and 10 times what our current aircraft will do”, Virgin America’s CEO told CNBC. Ku will be used across the pacific, and dual antenna technology lets the plane switch between the two.

The first planes will get the Ka-powered internet added in September 2015. Hawaii flights will get Ku-band planes from early 2016.

The new connections will be beta tested during the rollout. During that period, customers will be given free wifi — pricing will be introduced in 2016.

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