10 NOVEMBER 2014
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In the first three years since Emirates launched inflight wi-fi connectivity, over half a million passengers have connected to the internet onboard an Emirates flight, and this demand is expected to increase exponentially.
Sir Tim Clark, the airline's President, said that technological limitations are hindering the roll-out of free wi-fi, but he expects this to change in future. “We’ve always viewed wi-fi as a service and a value-added part of Emirates’ overall product, rather than a revenue stream,” said Clark. “If we can offer good quality wi-fi connections for everyone on-board at no charge tomorrow, we will do it. But we face a slew of technical limitations, from speed and bandwidth availability and cost, to the supporting hardware and software, all of which we are working hard to address with the industry right now. Ultimately, we believe that onboard wi-fi will become a free service, and a standard that customers will expect on a full service airline, just like onboard refreshments and personal in-flight entertainment, he added.
Emirates now offers wi-fi on all of its 53 Airbus A380s and on 28 Boeing 777s. The airline also said it is undertaking "an aggressive retrofit programme" that will eventually see its entire fleet enabled.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A number of cruise ships offer unlimited free satellite wi-fi or similar pay-for packages. An experience of Oceania Riviera would seem to indicate a slowing of the service, but not to make it unusable. At one point a check with the IT department showed that 140 users were on-line. www.emirates.com
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