Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Thu July 09 2015

Virgin America to Offer High-Speed Wi-Fi on New Planes in September

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | July 09, 2015

Virgin America to Offer High-Speed Wi-Fi on New Planes in September

One of the biggest issues most passengers have with flying is the lack of reliable Internet service, but Virgin America is once again changing the game by instituting some of the fastest Wi-Fi service in the industry.

Virgin America has been on the cutting edge of Internet service on planes, being the first and only carrier in the world to offer Wi-Fi on every plane in its fleet. Now, the company announced on Wednesday that it would be teaming up with ViaSat Inc. to bring significantly faster Wi-Fi connectivity to Virgin America’s new aircrafts.

According to the company’s official website, Virgin America will receive a crop of 10 new A320 aircrafts delivered in September of this year, and each will be outfitted with the upgraded technology. Partnering with ViaSat gives the airline access to the ViaSat-1, the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world offering 140 gigabits-per-second.

The signal will be strong enough for passengers onboard flights in the United States to stream video services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. The newfound partnership will help Virgin America deliver Internet speeds that are typically eight-to-10 times faster than any other in-flight Wi-Fi system.

Virgin America Director of Product Design and Innovation Ken Bieler released a statement:

“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. Since 2009, our guests have come to rely on and expect Wi-Fi access on every flight, and we’ve continued to improve our Wi-Fi product offering over the years.  Bringing ViaSat’s satellite-based Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi coverage on our new Hawaii flights and for travelers who wish to stream video in-flight.”

Add in the fact that Virgin America will be the first airline to use ViaSat’s new hybrid Ku/Ka-band antenna, and there are few places on earth travelers will be able to visit that won’t be able to pick up a strong Wi-Fi signal, including Hawaii starting in 2016.

The announcement about the partnership with ViaSat is part of Virgin America’s focus on improving the onboard Internet service. As Patrick Clarke of TravelPulse reported in December, the company has made major strides to improve Wi-Fi in its existing planes, but the additions to the new planes are a glimpse of the future.

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