AT&T's Killing Its In-Flight WiFi Plans

Illustration for article titled AT&T's Killing Its In-Flight WiFi Plans

In-flight WiFi is great (because Snapchat on planes!) but also terrible (because paying $12 for two hours of dial-up era internet), something that AT&T was planning to change by offering its own in-flight WiFi. Sadly, AT&T just announced that it's nuking that idea.

Back in April, AT&T announced that it was working on an alternative to slow in-flight internet, which currently tends to be at around 10 megabits for the entire aircraft. Its system would use a ground-to-air connection, with the signal sent to planes over LTE airwaves that AT&T already owns, from cell towers that AT&T has already built.

That all makes perfect sense — AT&T's already got the infrastructure, and with the thousands of cell towers it already owns, it should be able to do things far faster than Gogo, the current in-flight WiFi leader. It also uses an air-to-ground network (for flights over land), but with only 160 towers covering all of North America, you can eat entire meals whilst waiting for your #planeselfie to upload.


Sadly, AT&T very quietly killed the plans today, with a statement reading:

"Last week we announced our intent to acquire Iusacell, a wireless company in Mexico. At the same time, and after a thorough review of our investment portfolio, the company decided to no longer pursue entry into the in-flight connectivity industry. We are focusing our capital on transformative investments, such as our Iusacell and DIRECTV deals,"

The Netflix-on-planes future might have to wait a little longer. [PC World]

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Robert A Petersen

President Obama announces support for Net Neutrality, and reclassifying ISP's as Utilities, then AT&T suddenly pulls a "Fuck you" on this. Have to wonder if it is a coincidence.

Not quite as nice as what AT&T was going to do, but T-Mobile will allow for free in flight SMS and Voicemail. Though, sadly, it appears they are against Utility reclassification...