Virgin America’s In-Flight Wi-Fi Boasts 10x Speed Jump, Handles Netflix And Hulu Streams With Ease

Thanks to a new technology partnership with ViaSat Inc., Virgin America is about to upgrade its in-flight Wi-Fi service in a big way. How big? In vague terms, Virgin America says the partnership will bring "significantly faster" wireless connectivity that will allow its passengers to stream video content from the web. Good stuff, though let's talk numbers.

Virgin America will pull Wi-Fi service from the ViaSat-1, the highest capacity Ka-band satellite in the world offering 140 gigabits per second. What this means for passengers soaring 35,000 feet about ground is the ability to enjoy Internet service that's typically 8 to 10 times faster than any other in-flight Wi-Fi system currently available.

Virgin Atlantic Wi-Fi

Using this new technology, Virgin America will become the first commercial airline to offer in-flight Wi-Fi service that can operate in both Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks on the same aircraft, the company says. It's another notch in Virgin America's belt, as it's also the first (and still only) U.S. airline to offer Wi-Fi service on every aircraft in its fleet.

Of course, the real treat for passengers is having the bandwidth to stream video from services like Netflix and Hulu, rather than being at the mercy of whatever programs the airline has on tap for long trips. Kudos to ViaSat for making that possible.

"Our competitive advantage is rooted in the unique bandwidth economics of ViaSat-1 and the forthcoming ViaSat-2 satellite networks. 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, Commercial Mobility Business, 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."

Virgin America said it's adding the faster Wi-Fi service to 10 new A320 aircraft beginning in September of this year.