AT&T Joins Forces With Honeywell To Announce New Inflight Internet Service To Rival Gogo

While Gogo Inc. is currently sitting quite pretty with about 80% of all wired commercial aircraft in the United States using its cellular network-based technology to keep passengers on the Internet while in flight. But there’s a new kid on the block ready to shake things up, in the form of an AT&T and Honeywell joint effort.

The two companies announced that they’re teaming up to provide high-speed, in-flight Internet in the United State, reports Reuters, which will set them up to compete with Gogo.

The new service is expected by late 2015 and will usean AT&T 4G LTE network and Honeywell systems and hardware to provide broadband services to a slew of inflight ventures as well as airlines that might want to boost the connectivity onboard planes for things like checking the status of various parts or getting weather reports.

Gogo sounds like it’s not worried at all, even though shares fell after the announcement by AT&T and Honeywell.

“I think it went the wrong direction,” Chief Executive Mike Small said of the shares, adding that Gogo pioneered the air-to-ground system. “We have a great business and everybody wants in.”

Honeywell says the AT&T system would be faster and have greater bandwidth than existing systems, without forking over any specific numbers for approximate speeds of the 4G network.

There’s quite a varied playing field out there already in terms of speed — Gogo is working on a satellite-based system that can provide speeds of up to 70 megabits per second, much faster than its current service of 9.8 mbps for the current air-to-ground service.

This new option as well as a slew of others launching recently or soon make it tough for airlines to choose which to use, as it’s expensive to outfit an entire fleet with a system.

But as always, competition exists to keep industries thriving and offer a wide variety of choices. And when there’s an actual choice to be made, everyone wins. If airlines get a good deal on inflight Internet, it’s to be hoped those deals can be passed on down to the passenger. The key word being, “hope.”

AT&T, Honeywell to challenge Gogo’s airborne Web business [Reuters]