AT&T Inc., the second-biggest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, will introduce 4G LTE wireless Internet access on commercial flights, mounting a challenge to Wi-Fi provider Gogo Inc.
With help from Honeywell International Inc., AT&T will begin offering the service as soon as late 2015 for in-flight Internet connections and entertainment, as well as for cockpit communications, according to a statement today. The 4G LTE technology it will use on board is the same standard AT&T employs for its fastest mobile-phone network.
The company is seeking to tap into growing demand for reliable Internet access on planes as more passengers bring digital devices, such as tablets and e-books, to pass the time during flights. That’s a market that Itasca, Illinois-based Gogo has tried to corner, offering broadband service on more than 2,000 commercial aircraft and more than 2,000 business jets.
AT&T would be the first provider of 4G LTE on planes, said Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Shares of Gogo dropped 22 percent to $14.38 in late trading after Dallas-based AT&T announced its agreement. AT&T was little changed at $35.08.
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