So much for Wi-Fi competition in the skies: AT&T has decided that it won't be developing its own in-flight internet service after all. The original plan, announced back in April, was for AT&T to build out a land-to-air network based on its 4G LTE technology. Eventually that would've put the company head to head against Gogo — the current leader in aviation connectivity. AT&T's in-flight network was also intended to power onboard entertainment services for participating airlines.
In April, AT&T didn't seem to think this would prove an insurmountable challenge; the company said its existing spectrum holdings would be a key advantage as it sought to bring travelers a new option for high-speed data. It also formed a partnership with Honeywell to push things along, with a goal of launching in 2015.
But clearly there's been some major second guessing in the months since. On Monday, AT&T issued a brief statement making clear that it would "no longer pursue entry into the in-flight connectivity industry." The news was first reported by Runway Girl Network. With so much already on its plate, the company likely realized that money would be better spent elsewhere. "We are focusing our capital on transformative investments, such as international and video," a spokesperson said. AT&T is still trying to push through a $48.5 billion bid to purchase DirecTV and, just Friday, announced a $2.5 billion acquisition of Mexican carrier Iusacell. So if you're a frequent flyer, hopefully Gogo's meeting your needs; it doesn't sound like fresh competition is coming soon.