Honeywell Aerospace announced yesterday that it will be the exclusive hardware provider for a new continental U.S. air-to-ground 4G network from AT&T that will provide faster in-flight broadband service for business jets and airliners starting late next year. With the new 4G LTE service, passengers will experience speeds that are a “significant improvement” from today’s air-to-ground speeds, Honeywell said.
While neither Honeywell nor AT&T provided data speed information, PC Magazine rated AT&T’s 4G LTE national network as the “fastest mobile network” last June. The magazine found that AT&T’s national 4G network clocked download speeds ranging from 16.65 to 66.11 Mbps and upload speeds of 7.43 Mbps. This compares to ViaSat’s Yonder Internet service with speeds of up to 4 Mbps, which that company says is the fastest in-flight data speed currently available. The new Ka-band GX Aviation satcom will offer speeds up to 50 Mbps globally when it becomes available for the commercial aviation market by the middle of next year.
With the new Honeywell/AT&T service, passengers will be able to watch video, in addition to texting and Internet surfing. The system could also be used to relay real-time aircraft data transmissions.
Honeywell will supply antennas and other hardware, enabling access to the network. In addition, Honeywell’s system is being developed to work with Inmarsat’s L-band and new Global Xpress Ka-band satellite systems, for which Honeywell also provides hardware. That could extend passengers’ Internet connectivity beyond the continental U.S.