The service will be available in late 2015 according to the carrier, and will be delivered via a newly built air-to-ground network across the continental United States. AT&T will use spectrum it already holds under license.
The goal is to “transform airborne connectivity” through connected a high-speed LTE network through a reliable on-board Wi-Fi connection. The connectivity is more than just for entertainment of passengers though. AT&T plans to ensure that aviation customers, from pilots and crew, to maintenance teams (real-time aircraft telemetry) and crew services, are able to utilize the service.
AT&T has partnered with Honeywell to deliver the hardware and service components for the in-flight connections. The idea is to build better capabilities in-flight. If anyone has tried in-flight internet services before, one word that might come to mind is “slow,” or perhaps, “frustrating,” since connection quality is not always ideal.
No aviation partners have been named yet, but AT&T is bringing its game to compete with the likes of Gogo and enhancing the service offering beyond a mere consumer product. Pricing and availability will be announced prior to the service being launched, though the carrier does plan to make available both commercial and industrial applications available at launch.
To deliver this new service, AT&T plans to build an innovative air-to-ground network in the continental United States, based on global 4G LTE standards, to provide fast speeds and efficient utilization of spectrum already owned by AT&T. As the architect and operator of the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network**, AT&T has the expertise, spectrum and financial strength to transform airborne connectivity.
“Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet,” said John Stankey, Chief Strategy Officer at AT&T. “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.”
Honeywell, an aerospace industry leader, recently issued its Wireless Connectivity Survey indicating that in-flight Wi-Fi currently causes frustrations for nearly nine in 10 users worldwide, most often due to inconsistent or slow connections. AT&T plans to work with Honeywell to provide hardware and service capabilities to deliver the in-flight connectivity solution. Along with Honeywell’s expertise, AT&T’s technical strength and scale in building networks and managing their evolutions provide a unique opportunity to change the way passengers and airlines connect to the mobile Internet. With AT&T’s planned new network, passengers would gain the reliability they have long hoped for in the sky – for browsing the Internet, checking email, keeping in touch with friends and family through social networking and messaging services, and increasing business productivity. AT&T’s in-flight connectivity also offers the potential for improved communications between the plane and the ground through transmission of real-time aircraft data for optimizing, monitoring and evolving airlines’ operations.
In-flight connectivity is a natural fit for AT&T, which over the past six years (2008 to 2013) has invested more than $140 billion into its wireless and wireline networks, when you combine capital investment and acquisitions of spectrum and wireless operations, and already operates the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network. AT&T has more than 116 million wireless subscribers, more than 16.5 million total broadband subscribers and serves many of the world’s largest corporations, including all of the Fortune 1000. AT&T is a leader in connected devices and continues to win awards for its wireless and wireline services, while also continuing to innovate with its recent launches of its Connected Car platform and Drive Studio, and introduction of AT&T U-verse® with GigaPowerSM in select U.S. cities.
AT&T sees an opportunity to deliver an innovative and high-performing in-flight connectivity and entertainment service, and will build on existing relationships within the aviation industry to deliver a better customer experience than what is available from others today. AT&T plans for its in-flight connectivity service to support both business aviation and commercial airline customers from day one of the service launch. AT&T will provide information on pricing and availability prior to launch.
AT&T 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.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
**Reliability claim based on data transfer completion rates on nationwide 4G LTE networks. 4G LTE availability varies.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and internationally. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile Internet, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV service with the AT&T U-verse® brand. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world.
Reliability claim based on data transfer completion rates on nationwide 4G LTE networks. 4G LTE availability varies.
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Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update or revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.
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