AT&T plans to have 4G/LTE-based systems onboard aircraft in the U.S. by the end of 2015. The company will partner its extensive ground-based coverage footprint and bandwidth capacity with Honeywell Avionics to provide the onboard systems to connect with the LTE signal on the ground. With tens of thousands of towers across the country already installed with AT&T hardware, the plan is to install additional antennae on top of the towers and to aim them towards the sky to support the aviation service. It is predicted that fewer than 20 percent of their current towers would have the additional antennae installed, but that still adds up to far more towers than Gogo currently has in its network.
Bottom line: There’s potential for higher connectivity speeds than what Gogo offers with AT&T’s LTE-based technology and with less sharing of bandwidth because there would be fewer planes on each tower. It remains to be seen how this will have an impact on the current partnerships between several airlines and Gogo.