Feeds

AT&T plans in-flight internet move using its US 4G network

Honeywell hardware will turn aircraft into internet nodes

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

AT&T has one of the largest LTE networks in the US, and it has now signed an agreement with Honeywell to use the cellular grid to bring faster in-flight internet to air passengers.

"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 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."

In-flight internet is nothing new – Gogo has been beaming data back and forth between aircraft in the US for six years now from a network of around 300 cellular towers dotted across the US. But AT&T has many, many more cell towers than that, and the company reckons it can offer a faster and more reliable connection than its chief airline rival.

Suitably equipped aircraft would use an antenna to pick up signals from AT&T cellular towers during a flight, and that bandwidth would then be processed by Honeywell's hardware and used in-flight.

Gogo has been upping its bandwidth and now has an aircraft-to-satellite linkup system as well, but AT&T's LTE network could provide a much faster service. Other operators are also expected to get into the game now that the Federal Communications Commission wants to make extra wireless spectrum available for airborne data.

AT&T is partnering with Honeywell to run its in-flight service. As with the Gogo system, data will be streamed up to aircraft antennas and then Honeywell will provide the backend so that passengers can catch up on the latest Grumpy Cat pictures.

"We're not just servicing the passengers however," Jack Jacobs, Honeywell's VP of safety and information management systems told The Reg.

"It's also servicing the crew with updated charts and maps, updated weather information, and sending data for operations and maintenance departments on the aircraft itself. Our vision is a connected aircraft, where every aircraft essentially becomes an internet node and you can tie this across a fleet of aircraft around the world."

For airline passengers, getting faster internet is no bad thing, and with a bit of competition, Gogo might be forced to lower its rather expensive charges. Then again, this is AT&T we're talking about – it isn’t exactly known for its low, low prices.

One area of concern for many who fly regularly is the possibility of allowing mobile voice calls as well as data connections on aircraft. Gogo offers a text-in-the-sky smartphone app, but no-one's touching voice calls as yet.

"This technology should allow for voice calls as well as data, but that's up to the airlines," Jacobs said. "It's not a technology challenge at this point, but a policy challenge."

Which is a polite way of saying airlines have to find a way of avoiding other passengers beating someone to death with their shoes when they start bellowing onto their phones about their next huge business deal. If the number of such calls endured by ground-based public transport users is anything to go by, airlines may be loathe to risk it and we may enjoy peaceful skies for a while longer. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.