In-flight mobile phone use approved across Europe

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

The European Commision has opened the door for mobile phones on planes, introducing
measures to harmonize the technical and licensing requirements for mobiles services
in the sky.

This means that 90 percent of European air passengers can remain contactable
during flights, according to the Commission. The commercial systems currently
envisaged for airlines are focussing on MCA services for GSM (Global System
for Mobile Communications) phones operating in the 1800MHz frequency bands,
which over 90 percent of air passengers are estimated to carry when travelling.

As a result of the introduction of the measures by the Commission, local regulators
will be able to hand out licenses to make services a reality.

One regulatory decision for all of Europe was required for this new service
to come into being, according to Viviane Reding, the European Union Telecommunicationss
Commissioner.

"In-flight mobile phone services can be a very interesting new service
especially for those business travellers who need to be ready to communicate
wherever they are," she said in a statement.

At the same time, if users get "shock phone bills, the service will not
take off," Reding warned.

The ability to make phone calls on board planes is moving forward on severel
fronts.

Recently the world's first authorized in-flight mobile phone calls on a commercial
flight, by Emirates Airline, took place last month following the introduction
of the AeroMobile system, a joint venture between Telenor and ARINC, by Emirates
Airline.

Field studies and market research clearly show that there is strong interest
in in-flight mobile communications among passengers, particularly among business
travellers and frequent flyers, but also by leisure travellers, according to
Telenor.

But not everyone is convinced.

Airlines have to take into considiration the fact that many passengers don't
want mobile coverage on airplanes, according to Monica Hultberg, spokeswoman
at Scandinavian Airlines.

"A couple of years ago we did a survey, and 50 percent didn't like the
idea," said Hultberg, adding that it's monitoring how the area develops.

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