Review : Sky-high Wifi from Qantas

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Those that have not been following me for the last few weeks on social media would not realise why things have been quite on my home on the web.

I have traveled to the other side of the planet to an awesome spot in Canada known as Windsor.

This meant spending an unreasonable amount of time in the air but thankfully I was able to choose the Flying Kangaroo to get to where I needed to be. With the tablet becoming an essential piece of travel kit we are seeing more and more airlines leverage these devices.

Gone are the blurry and cumbersome seat back displays and replacing them are the clear screens and responsive interfaces that you have bought yourself complete with comfortable headphones suited to you. It makes perfect sense until you wonder how you will access anything of note in a metal tube some 10km in the air?

Some international flights will come equipped with Wifi that will link your tablet to the aircraft’s entertainment server that will let you stream video, audio and get updates on your flight status but thanks to satellite internet services, you can also access the internet.

Now getting the internet is straight forward as long as you are in a service area but when that is not available you are out of luck. This is where getting any kind of connection well outside and above any signal while zipping along at around 900km/h is impressive but to get the speeds I was measuring was something to behold.

The download speed was around 14Mbps with an upload of 0.5Mbps which puts it within the high-ish end of good old ADSL. This is perfect for catching up on your social media, email, web browsing and streaming from Youtube, Netflix or Amazon Video. However it does fall behind compared to landline and mobile internet services. It is the ping.

Ping is the time it takes to get a packet of information out to a server and back again. A bit like a sonar ping. Now the typical ping that we get in most cases is 60ms to as low as 9ms but running a connection over satellite services gives a ping of over 500ms.

Even though the service is great for everything up to streaming video, it is lousy for online gaming, voice or video calls. I would not even try it but if you manage to get some kind of success then more power to you.

This free service is a logical use of technology already carried by your typical traveler and coupled with the in-cabin charging, you can stay entertained and well connected for hours on end. Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep on the long haul flights though. Jetlag is something you do not want to bring with you as a souvenir.

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