Nok Air to launch free onboard wi-fi in August

Thai budget carrier Nok Air will offer complementary wi-fi connectivity onboard selected domestic flights from August in partnership with satellite operator Thaicom and Global Eagle Entertainment.

The system will rely on Ku-band satellite technology to deliver “3G-like” speed data connectivity of up to 8mbps to the aircraft, using Golden Eagle’s Row 44 solution. The system will also offer streaming video content for passengers, and may also be able to stream broadcast television to the aircraft.

Nok chief executive Patee Sarasin says that the service will be fitted to up to six Boeing 737-800s “right away”, with the aim of launching it in August, ahead of a rollout out across its entire jet fleet. Certification from the Thai Department of Civil Aviation and US Federal Aviation Administration for the solution is close to being completed, he adds.

As well as Nok, Global Eagle provides Row 44 connectivity to a number of other airlines including Norwegian, Icelandair and Southwest Airlines.

Sarasin says that the complementary onboard wi-fi will provide a basis for more new products that will be rolled out later, and will drive new ancillary revenues for the airline.

“It’s so new, the world has not seen it yet and it’s going to be quite wild, I promise you,” he adds.

Nok also has four ATR 72s in its fleet, and four Bombardier Q400s on order. Sarasin says that at this stage there is no plan to fit the Row 44 equipment to either type.

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