Surfing up in the sky

30 Sep 2019 / 10:50 H.

AirAsia is upgrading its inflight WiFi service Rokki to GX Aviation, a high-speed Ka-band aviation broadband available from Inmarsat, to provide passengers with even better connectivity during their flight.

A total of eight aircraft – six operated by AirAsia Malaysia with the AK carrier code and two by AirAsia Thailand with the carrier code FD – have so far been equipped with GX Aviation.

The rest of the fleet’s WiFi is expected to be upgraded over the next year.

GX Aviation is the world’s first inflight broadband solution offering reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator.

Compared to the previous L-band, GX Aviation’s Ka-band offers an enhanced inflight entertainment and connectivity experience beyond basic broadband, as well as supporting real-time video, music streaming and more.

Guests travelling on GX Aviation-equipped aircraft have been enjoying a free 10MB trial of the new service the whole of September.

Members of the media had a chance to try out the upgraded WiFi recently when they were taken for an experiential flight onboard an AirAsia plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching.

During the flight, we managed to stream videos on YouTube without much of a drop in connection speed, while others managed to video-call friends and even go on Netflix.

At a press conference after the flight, AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat said: “AirAsia has been offering the L-band for a bit ... What the airline is doing from this point onwards is equipping all of our aircraft with Ka-band.

“The sooner we get it off the ground and into the aircraft, the faster we can expect passengers to have a more wholesome experience.”

Riad added that from a service point of view, “this particular Ka-band is taking it another step further”.

As to when the whole AirAsia’s fleet will be getting this WiFi upgrade, Riad said the goal is to equip as many as possible by next year.

He added that the challenge facing the airline is bringing the aircraft down and scheduling the installation date, among others.

But plans are already in place for this upgrade, Riad said.

Rokki chief executive officer Sargunan Seenivasan explained that passengers can go to www.rokki.com to check if their flight is WiFi-enabled 48-hours before the flight.

“We are also enhancing the AirAsia app so that if your flight is WiFi-enabled, you will get a notification confirming it,”

Sargunan said, adding that once the full fleet has been enabled, there will no longer be a need to check beforehand.

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