Honeywell and AT&T to provide new cellular connectivity service

Washington DC
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Honeywell Aerospace will provide hardware for a new cellular connectivity service that AT&T is planning to bring to commercial and business aircraft passengers as soon as 2015.

The 4G LTE service, which could be available “as early as the end of 2015”, will provide a “significant improvement” when compared to air-to-ground connectivity speeds, say the companies.

How fast the internet service will be is unclear. Gogo, the market leader of connectivity on flights within the USA, provides peak speeds of up to 9.8 Mbps through the latest version of its air-to-ground technology, ATG-4.

The connectivity will allow passengers to watch videos as well as send texts, e-mail and surf the internet, says Honeywell. The cellular product will also integrate with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband L-band network, which Honeywell provides hardware for today.

US regulations do not permit passengers to use 800MHz cellular networks on flight today, however the Federal Communications Commission decided in December to seek comments on a proposed rule that would allow passengers to activate them above 10,000ft. That practice has been banned since 1991 due to concerns about how the devices could interfere with terrestrial networks while used in the air.