In Flight Entertainment (IFE) on the Apple iPad has been an interesting development since the first Apple iPad came out (and yes, I dismissed it in the very first instant as companies would have to develop mounts… and I’ve been eating humble pie ever since as mounts slowly appear and things like SmartCovers turn up).
In nearly all cases when an airline offers an iPad, the content loaded on it, with only American offering a streaming system (the content is downloaded to the device as you play it – ala YouTube).
Well, Qantas is getting in on the game with it’s QStreaming In-Flight Entertainment product.
The product is a wireless IFE server, connecting to Apple iPads in the cabin via WiFi in the plane, and will be free at the point of delivery to both Business Class and Economy Class travellers. In addition, Qantas will offer iPads in each seat on the planes free of charge for use whilst in flight (though you’ll have to use the Qantas headphones unless you play with adapters all week).
QStreaming will be available on Australia domestic flights, currently operated by a 767-300 (Registration VH-OGH), with plans to expand.
One of the concerns I’ve had with the wireless streaming issue is the amount of access points verses passengers. Qantas calculates their WiFi solution is 1 Access Point to 60 passengers (so on a 767-300, 5 AP’s). I’ll be interested to see if this works out right, and if at peak load the AP’s will keep going… or if they’ll keel over and fall flat.
The central content server will have over 200 hours content loaded, and is holds over”18 times the storage capacity of a 64GB tablet”. My IT manager maths puts that at about 1.2TB of data stored on the server which can be stored in multiple of methods with failover.
In the first phase, QStreaming will be restricted to their own iPads, but eventually, they are planning for the product to be avalible on your own smartphone, tablet or laptop.
The focus of the test 767-300 will be on the East Coast of Australia and to Perth.
To get this kit qualified for using in the air as a solution is an amazing achievement, and it looks like a very good idea. I’m just worried with 254 people hit the AP’s after the seatbelt sign is extinguished will creak the service to a standstill….