Aircell's GoGo has so far managed to dominated the slow-starting U.S. in-flight broadband market, but it appears that they will soon have some deep-pocketed competition. AT&T has announced the company will be jumping into the in-flight broadband market with a service of their own the company states could be available "as soon as late 2015." AT&T will be working with Honeywell’s aerospace division to develop both broadband and "onboard" entertainment systems for aircraft.
"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," the company said in a statement. "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."
While GoGo has cornered the in-flight broadband market (facing at least one lawsuit
over their exclusive deals with airports), usage has been measured as many customers balk at paying higher rates for service. GoGo last fall announced
they're working on technology that should significantly speed up existing services.
It should be interesting to see if AT&T, with their deep pockets and lobbying muscle, can somehow manage to kick GoGo out of the catbird seat. It's hard to think AT&T would be disruptive on price (not something they're known for), but it's possible they could deliver a more consistent network experience.