When I fly, I am afforded a few brief hours of sublime luxury when I’m not connected to the Internet – I live in Canada, you see, where in-flight Wi-Fi between our country and the U.S. still isn’t all that normal. But one day soon, you won’t be able to escape the web, even at 30,000 feet, no matter where you’re flying from or to, and AT&T’s newly announced plan to “mobilize the sky” (yes they really said that) is another sign of the encroachment of blanket connectivity.
The U.S. carrier plans to offer high-speed 4G LTE connectivity in-flight as soon as late next year, which AT&T says has potential benefits not just for travellers looking to catch up on House of Cards, but also for pilots and crew in terms of improved cockpit and ground communications.
But how will AT&T get its terrestrial network into the atmosphere? By building an air-to-ground network in the U.S. using existing spectrum. This should allow for consistently high speeds that outperform their Wi-Fi counterparts, at least in theory, with essentially the same network technology that keeps devices connected on the ground with AT&T’s existing nationwide 4G LTE spread. Don’t expect it to be included in your regular plan, however; AT&T says it intends to provide information regarding pricing and availability closer to launch, but this seems like something that would at least incur some kind of add-on to existing subscriptions.