Trade mag Flightglobal gets the full story on Qantas' in-flight calling, texting, and Internet plans: A few days ago, it seemed to come out that Qantas had dropped Aeromobile (its test partner last year) for OnAir, and was moving to Internet service on A380s instead of in-flight cell calling and texting. Flightglobal clears the air, and reveals that Qantas will offer all of the above. (I wrote about this in "Sorry, Qantas, No Unfettered Broadband.")
OnAir was chosen for A380 service, with the initial rollout--especially for international flights--using the 64 Kbps Inmarsat satellite offering, which is too paltry for anything but limited text communication. When the recently launched Pacific satellite is active--which may take up to a year--OnAir and Qantas can upgrade to the luxurious nearly 500 Kbps per channel service.
The head of OnAir is pushing some mighty serious horsehockey, however, when he says as quoted by Flightglobal that he "is confident that once the full service is up and running, passengers will be able to access the Internet 'in exactly the same way as they can on the ground.'" That may be the case in terms of access, but not in terms of cost. The cost will be enormously high unless OnAir has a magic deal with Inmarsat that's previously undisclosed. I suspect a per MB charge will be in effect that will discourage much use. Calls and texting could be carried over the same system, of course.
Qantas plans to continue to work with Aeromobile for domestic service, with calls and texting available, on their Boeing 767-300s and Airbus A330-200s, Flightglobal reports. Aeromobile has plans to launch a full Internet service later this year using cached and live content. [link via Fabio Zambelli]