AT&T plans 4G in-flight Wi-Fi

AT&T is promising a "significant improvement" on current connection speeds
AT&T is promising a “significant improvement” on current connection speeds

AT&T is planning to launch a new high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi system for airlines.

The communications company has teamed up with Honeywell Aerospace to develop a new 4G service, through which it promises to offer “[connection] speeds that are a significant improvement from today’s air-to-ground speeds”. The service is anticipated to become available as early as the end of 2015, only in the US.

Under terms of an agreement with AT&T, Honeywell will develop the aircraft hardware needed to connect AT&T’s planned air-to-ground system in the US. Through this system, passengers will be able surf the internet and send and receive emails at the same speeds as on the ground, while air crews will also be able to use it for flight operations.

“AT&T’s industry leadership in consumer communications, coupled with Honeywell’s expertise in aviation, satellite communications and now the connected home and the connected aircraft is the perfect match to meet the growing connectivity requirements in a rising market,” said Tim Mahoney, president & CEO of Honeywell Aerospace.

The new system is expected to compete with Gogo, which is also developing high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi systems. But Gogo still appears to have the lead; the company recently penned a deal with Boeing to have aircraft equipped with its ATG-4 system during production. It is also planning to launch a new satellite-based system, 2Ku, designed to deliver in-flight connection speeds of more than 70 Mbps.

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