AT&T and Honeywell have made an agreement in principle, under which Honeywell will develop exclusive aircraft hardware that will connect to AT&T's planned air-to-ground 4G LTE network in the U.S. by the end of 2015.
Honeywell says with the new service, passengers will be able to enjoy 4G LTE's fast and dependable connections to watch video, text with family and friends, and access quicker speeds to surf the internet. This system is being developed so that it can integrate with Honeywell's GX and L-Band satellite systems, allowing true regional and potentially global connectivity for passengers, crew and operations personnel.
Honeywell Aerospace President and CEO Tim Mahoney said,
"Honeywell has established itself not only as a technology development leader, but as the company that fully understands consumers' desires to stay connected whether at home, in the office or car, and in-flight through the Connected Aircraft. 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."
In a recent wireless connectivity survey given by Honeywell, results showed that 9 of 10 users of in-flight WiFi experienced frustrations with service, including slow data rates and inconsistent connections.
AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey said:
"Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet. 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. We expect this service to transform connectivity in the aviation industry – we are truly mobilizing the sky."
With the service expected to launch next year it will compete against Gogo, whose services are on 80 percent of WiFi-equipped planes in the U.S. Gogo stock fell 14 percent after the announcement was made Monday. Will AT&T customers be able to access the network if thy already have an existing data contract? One would assume so, but not so fast. They haven't disclosed pricing for the service, but one could question the legality of making customers pay for access to data for which they've already paid. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one, and I'll make an update once I know.
Top Image: Airline passenger using a cell phone at the airport. [Getty Images]
Sources: Reuters / Honeywell