AT&T planning in-flight 4G connectivity for late-2015


AT&T has announced on Monday plans to launch in-flight 4G connectivity as early as late-2015, a technology it touts could be more reliable than in-flight Wi-Fi already made available on some flights in the US.

To deliver the new service, AT&T plans to build an air-to-ground network in the US, based on global 4G LTE standards, to “provide fast speeds and efficient utilization” of spectrum already owned by AT&T. 

“AT&T’s planned new network, passengers would gain the reliability they have long hoped for in the sky – for browsing the Internet, checking email, keeping in touch with friends and family through social networking and messaging services, and increasing business productivity,” the company says.

AT&T hasn’t announced pricing for the connectivity as it’s still a ways off, but AT&T plans to work with Honeywell to provide hardware and service capabilities to deliver the in-flight connectivity solution.

“Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet,” said John Stankey, Chief Strategy Officer at AT&T. “We are building on AT&T’s significant strengths to develop in-flight connectivity technology unlike any other that exists today, based on 4G LTE standards. We believe this will enable airlines and passengers to benefit from reliable high speeds and a better experience.”

AT&T is essentially taking on Gogo, a service that offers in-flight Wi-Fi via its air-to-ground cellular based network that has more than 160 towers in the continental US, Alaska and soon, Canada. Gogo has equipped over 2,000 commercial and 6,000 business aircraft with the technology.

Gogo’s stock is tanking in extended trading on Monday, down almost 19 percent after AT&T’s announcement.

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