Two Major Aviation Cellphone Networks Launching

Major players eye aviation market.

Honeywell Connectivity
Honeywell Connectivity

One of the top stories at NBAA this week was the emergence of not one but two new aviation cellular networks designed to grab a piece of the emerging market for cellular communications in high-end personal, business, commercial and governmental aircraft.

At its turbine market forecast on Sunday, Honeywell welcomed partner company AT&T, which announced a nationwide 4G network that it is already in the process of deploying. It expects the system to be available as early as late 2015. The system will consist of hundreds of ground stations that will piggyback on existing cell towers that will point skyward giving wide availability of fast 4G LTE, which AT&T says will present a significant improvement over existing ground to air networks such as Gogo Biz. Honeywell will build the aircraft hardware that will tie in with the AT&T network. Those instruments will integrate with Honeywell's existing satellite networks for what Honeywell says will potentially be seamless global connectivity.

The second major announcement was that by SmartSky, which will likewise launch 4G LTE service in late 2015 targeting business and commercial aviation. The company, which has been working on the program for several years already, is partnering with Textron Aviation, Duncan Aviation, Harris Corporation and Satcom Direct to build out a system that will give airborne users high-speed internet and more. The company will similarly use existing cell phone towers for its system.

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