Qantas Sky Muster trial a success

Wednesday, 12 April, 2017

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The Sky Muster trial for broadband access in emergency situations has been successfully launched.

Involving a Qantas jet and a Sky Muster satellite, the trial is paving the way for in-flight broadband access for the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

It will also provide mobile units for emergency services to use during natural disasters and mobile Sky Muster receivers for tractors and utes.

“In-flight telehealth on Flying Doctor’s planes can save lives, as it means live patient data, from, say, a heart monitor, can be sent to specialists on the ground who can send advice back almost instantly,” said Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash.

“It’s fantastic to think utes and tractors will also be able to have mobile Sky Muster receivers fitted. The benefits for rural and remote businesses could be huge.”

The trial is being conducted without any effects on Sky Muster users on the ground. It uses only unused data in whichever of Australia’s 101 Sky Muster beams the jet is flying through.

The trial involves a Qantas jet flying east coast routes accessing unused Sky Muster data (through a retail company which sells NBN Sky Muster access) while in flight. It will help develop and refine hardware and software for mobile in-flight internet access, which once tested can be used in other circumstances, including by the RFDS.

In the highly unlikely event there is no unused data in the beam the jet is flying through, the jet will not be able to access any data. If required, nbn co can end the trial using a contract termination clause which ends the deal if a user on the ground is affected.

RFDS CEO Martin Laverty has met with nbn co about joining the trial.

“In-flight broadband would allow in injured or ill patient’s medical information to be shared instantly with hospitals or specialists. It has potential to improve patient outcomes and the Flying Doctor is keen to test Sky Muster’s potential,” Laverty said.

Sky Muster is an ultramodern satellite made to deliver high-speed internet to the 4% of Australians who would never have received broadband any other way.

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