AT&T customers will soon be able to use a 4G LTE data connection midflight, the wireless carrier announced Monday.
The company said it hopes to launch a high-speed 4G LTE-based in-flight service by late 2015. To power the service, AT&T is building an air-to-ground network in the continental US that allows for Internet surfing and onboard entertainment.
This could pit AT&T against established service GoGo. In addition to Internet access, GoGo allows voice calls and text messages through its network. With the ever-growing popularity of using electronics devices on planes, companies are recognizing how valuable it is for customers to stay connected even while tens of thousands of feet above the ground. Even the Federal Aviation Administration, which decided to let passengers keep their devices turned on from departure to arrival, realized consumers want to stay plugged in for a flight.
AT&T is promising an even faster connection than what's already available.
"Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet," John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T, said in a press release. "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."
AT&T said its new network will also mean better connections for flight crew communications and is working with Honeywell, the largest manufacturer of aviation hardware and systems, to create the in-flight system.