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AT&T to Take On Gogo With In-Flight LTE Service

The ground-to-air system will launch as soon as late next year, AT&T said.


AT&T on Monday said it plans to get into the in-flight Internet access business by building a new air-to-ground technology based on its LTE wireless service.

“Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet,” AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stanke said in a statement. “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.”

The move pits AT&T against existing participants including Gogo and Global Eagle, whose Row 44 subsidiary powers Southwest’s in-flight service.

AT&T didn’t say what it expected the service to cost, but said it would be available for both commercial airlines and business jets when it launches. It also said it “does not expect additional capital expenditures required for this initiative to be material, nor will it have any impact on the company’s previously-announced financial guidance.”

Representatives for Gogo and Global Eagle were not immediately available for comment.

Update: Gogo and other rivals have now weighed in. Click here for our follow-up story, including an interview with Gogo CEO Michael Small

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