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AT&T Working On In-Flight LTE

Sarah Thomas
4/28/2014
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WiFi is still making its way up 35,000 feet, but AT&T already has plans to embed its LTE network in airplanes for air-to-ground 4G in-flight connectivity.

The carrier said on Monday afternoon that it would launch an LTE-based in-flight connectivity system for airlines and passengers in commercial, business, and general aviation in late 2015. For passengers, the broadband service will include WiFi and entertainment. For the airline, it will bring improved cockpit communications, maintenance operations, and crew services, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says.

AT&T doesn’t have aviation partners as of yet, but it's building the LTE network to work in the US on spectrum it already owns. It will announce availability and pricing information closer to the launch.

Why this matters
In-flight connectivity has become a priority for business and leisure travelers alike. While a lot of airline fleets have WiFi, the service often leaves much to be desired. AT&T says it will work with aerospace company Honeywell to improve the experience.

This move will pit AT&T against companies like GoGo that are well-entrenched in the airline industry with carrier partners, but it's a natural extension for the operator, which is also making a big push into connected cars. (See Volvo: AT&T HSPA+ Can Drive My Car and AT&T Tests Drivers' Desire to Pay for LTE.)

Related posts:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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MikeP688
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MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 2:55:39 PM
Re: Taking off
The issue, though, is relevancy and adaptability--and the premise of the WSJ as I saw it made that point.   
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/30/2014 | 2:45:34 PM
Re: Taking off
TiVo's situation and GoGo's are not comparable. TV networks and cable companies viewed TiVo as a competitive threat for years -- and perhaps they still do, to some extent. Also, TiVo setup was sufficiently complicated to make it intimidating for most people. Therefore, TiVo needed cooperation from cable companies to prosper, and that cooperation was mostly not forthcoming. 

In-fight wireles doesn't comare in that airlines benefit from in-flight wireless. There's no competition, real or perceived, with the airline business model. 
MikeP688
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MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 7:55:19 PM
Re: Taking off
I saw that...almost 30%.    It was interesting the article in todays WSJ as it noted, "...Will Gogo go the way of TiVo?"==although Tivo began it all w/DVR, didn;t it :-)

 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/29/2014 | 6:46:58 PM
Re: Taking off
Gogo stock is taking a beating over this
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 4:57:56 PM
Re: Taking off
Honeywell Aviation as a leading manufacturer and developer of avionics and aviation devices for commercial and military use should certainly be a great partner with AT&T providing they both provide adequate resources to the in-flight services program. These two just may be able to take over the largest part of the commercial fleet if they stay competitive with upcoming products.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 12:03:40 PM
Re: Taking off
Oh Kruz...did you have to give them this brilliant idea???  But seriously, that is what they will probably do or link it to some "worthwhile" GB/month plan or the like.  Let's hope not.
MikeP688
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MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 9:32:33 AM
Re: Taking off
As the GOGO CEO, he has to be optimistic and upbeat.    He does not have any other choice--does he?

 
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 9:22:59 AM
Re: Taking off
I have to disagree. If AT&T is serious in this venture and puts enough human and financial resources behind it, GOGO might find it very hard to continue. There are already other competitors and the company's finances are somewhat iffy. 

Of course, it's also iffy that AT&T will indeed devote the necessary resources and stay nimble as this part of the market evoves.
Kruz
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Kruz,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 9:05:28 AM
Re: Taking off
I hope it will not take advantage of the poor WI-FI offering and charge the LTE usage as a premium service.
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2014 | 8:45:08 AM
Re: AT&T video?
I've never had very good results myself, and I've not been particularly impressed with GoGo pricing, which seems to edge up ever so slightly over time. It's pretty doubtful AT&T's going to innovate anytime soon on pricing, but maybe they can craft a somewhat more efficient experience. GoGo does have a pretty good chunk of land staked out in the market though, will be interesting to see how/if AT&T's power (lobbying and otherwise) helps them make headway with airlines.
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