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Can AT&T fix in-flight WiFi?
It has not been a good 2014 so far for GoGo, one of the most popular providers of in-flight WiFi.
Just last month, a federal judge refused to throw out a class action lawsuit alleging that GoGo was violating antitrust laws by cornering the in-flight broadband market (with 85% of the market) which has resulted in higher prices and terrible service. With many of its airline customers, GoGo has a 10-year exclusive deal.
GoGo’s pricing and performance often underwhelms and now faces new pressure from AT&T who says they will start offering a 4G LTE in-flight service in late 2015. AT&T didn’t announcing pricing or technical details, but said it expects their service to be up and running by as early as late next year, with options for both business planes and commercial aircraft. AT&T’s air-to-ground network in the U.S. will be based on 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) standards.
AT&T said it will use “existing relationships within the aviation industry” to gain distribution. AT&T, however, could bundle in-flight plans with its existing wireless service.
According to GoGo, they will be launching GTO (Ground to Orbit) technology in 2015 that will use satellite technologies with GoGo’s Air to Ground (ATG) cellular network which will be a boost in speed up to 60 Mbps per aircraft.
JetBlue has also launched a new, faster in-flight Wi-Fi service powered by ViaSat’s Exede satellite broadband service which promises 12 Mbps to each connected passenger. According to ViaSat, their in-flight system will support those speeds with 50-70 personal devices connected simultaneously per flight. According to the JetBlue, a customer can browse for free but will need to pay $9 per hour if you want to do anything more with the connection such as watching video or file transfers. JetBlue says the goal is to install the service on several planes each month, with the entire fleet equipped by the end of 2014.