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SAS rolls out fast wi-fi on Europe routes

SAS declares the new high-speed connectivity to be the “best product on the market”.

Passengers flying SAS on short-haul and medium-haul routes will now start to have access to “a stable, fast and strong wi-fi signal, enabling them to stream and work inflight problem-free”, the airline has announced.

The new high-speed connectivity, which SAS declares to be the “best product on the market” and “more stable, stronger and faster than many other solutions found in the industry today”, will be available on routes within Europe.

The speed means that passengers will be able to stream movies, use social media, send images from their seat or answer emails, SAS says.

Travelers in SAS Plus, EuroBonus Diamond and Gold members will get the service free “all the way”, while passengers in Go will have to pay €4.90 or the equivalent in other currencies. Silver members will be offered free wi-fi during the launch campaign period, until August 19.

Passengers will be able to go online and start streaming as soon as the plane is in the air.

A total of 43 of SAS’s mid-range aircraft will receive the connection during the summer, provided by the US firm Viasat Inc. The speed will be at least 12 Mbit/s on any device.

Of the 43 aircraft, 28 have already had the system installed and will have full speed by the end of May. The mid-range aircraft rollout should be complete by September. SAS says it expects the vast majority of its fleet to be wi-fi enabled by the first quarter of 2020.

White spots
For now, though, SAS has no plans to install the same system on its long-haul aircraft, where the existing wi-fi system has been subject to severe criticism, Check-in.dk reports.

However, “when we get our new Airbus A350 long-range aircraft from 2019 we will consider what type of wi-fi system to install on them, including whether it’s the Viasat system,” Therese Lorenius, vice president of products and services, tells Check-in.dk.

Answering the question of why SAS is not providing wi-fi for free for all passengers, as some of its competitors in Europe do, Lorenius said: “Airlines have different payment models for onboard services. Some also charge for wi-fi in business. We want to do something special for our most loyal customers, and therefore access is free for them.”

The Viasat system works using the geostationary Ka-Sat satellite and 82 land transmission and reception stations spread across Europe. Signals are sent between the aircraft and the satellite via an antenna mounted on top of the rear of the plane.

There are currently a few exceptions to the coverage Europe, such as over the North Sea on flights to and from the UK, over the Bay of Biscay and to and from Svalbard and the Canary Islands. Viasat’s other customers include Finnair, Icelandair and Singapore Airlines.

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