When it comes to in-flight Wi-Fi, Gogo currently rules the skies. But next year the company will finally face off against a new and powerful competitor: AT&T. AT&T has announced that it plans to launch its own in-flight internet service that's based on the carrier's 4G LTE network. It's still early, but the company hopes to have things up and running for airlines and passengers by "late 2015." AT&T says its in-flight solution will be made available across commercial, business, and general aviation. It will be used to provide Wi-Fi connectivity — much like Gogo — and also to power onboard entertainment services.
To execute on its plan, AT&T will need to build out a brand new air-to-ground network in the continental US. But that won't necessarily require a huge spending spree; AT&T says this network will take full advantage of the wealth of spectrum it already owns.The company also plans to collaborate with Honeywell on hardware and services. "AT&T has the expertise, spectrum and financial strength to transform airborne connectivity," the company said in a press release today. Aside from the convenience of keeping your smartphone or laptop connected, AT&T says its in-flight network will improve communications between planes and crews on the ground "through transmission of real-time aircraft data for optimizing, monitoring and evolving airlines’ operations." Above all else, the best result for travelers could be a pricing war between the two companies.