AT&T eyes LTE network for in-flight use by passengers, pilots and crews

Air-to-ground network set for late 2015 launch in continental U.S.

AT&T plans to launch an LTE in-flight connection service by late 2015 for airlines and passengers that will be available for fast passenger Wi-Fi as well as real-time cockpit and maintenance communications.

The service will be based upon an air-to-gound network built in the continental U.S. and will use spectrum already owned by AT&T, the carrier said in a statement on Monday.

In a focus on reliability over in-flight Wi-Fi, AT&T said it will work with Honeywell to provide hardware and services.

AT&T has invested more than $140 billion in wireless and wired networks since 2008. AT&T's current LTE network is already operating nationwide, with average download speeds of 10 Mbps, although peak speeds can be many times greater, depending on network conditions.

The air-to-ground LTE network joins a number of AT&T initiatives that could help the company expand well beyond conventional services to its 116 million wireless subscribers and 16.5 million wired broadband subscribers. In the last year, it has launched the Connected Car and Drive Studio intiatives and recently introduced GigaPower, a 1 Gbps fiber optic connection similar to Google Fiber that will serve North Carolina communities and potentially 21 other cities.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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Tags wireless networkingGooglewireless carriersNetworkingat&twirelessHoneywell

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