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AT&T get in-flight 4G LTE on board by 2015

AT&T wants to rack up some frequent flier miles with high-speed 4G LTE-based in-flight mobile service.

Expected to be available in late 2015, the system will provide in-flight broadband for passengers and crew alike.

To deliver on its sky-high promise, the communications company plans to build an air-to-ground network based on global 4G LTE standards to utilise spectrum already owned by AT&T.

"Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet," John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T, said in a statement. "We are building on AT&T's significant strengths to develop in-flight connectivity technology unlike any other that exists today, based on 4G LTE standards."

According to September's wireless connectivity survey by Honeywell Aerospace, nearly 90 per cent of air travelers would give up amenities like preferred seating or extra legroom for faster in-flight Wi-Fi connections.

With the intent of addressing those users' concerns, AT&T and Honeywell are partnering to provide the hardware and service capabilities necessary to deliver a better in-flight connectivity solution.

But more than an added customer convenience, the new network will also allow for better communications between the plane and ground crew, through transmission of real-time aircraft data.

"We believe this will enable airlines and passengers to benefit from reliable high speeds and a better experience," Stankey said. "We expect this service to transform connectivity in the aviation industry—we are truly mobilizing the sky."

But AT&T isn't the only one with high-flying plans: Gogo recently announced its new 2Ku in-flight Wi-Fi technology, expected to launch on commercial flights in mid-2015.

By using its low-profile Ground to Orbit (GTO) antennas, Gogo will introduce 2Ku for the return link to the ground; via two low-profile, high-efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas, the company promises speeds of more than 70 Mbps.

Current pricing tiers offer a 24-hour Wi-Fi service pass for $14 (£8), as well as a $39.95 (£24) monthly pass for a specific airline, or $49.95 (£30) for an unlimited pass, good on all Gogo flights.

AT&T, meanwhile, has not revealed a pricing plan for its upcoming service.