Preparing for the day when aircraft passengers are allowed to make cellphone calls in flight, Arinc and Telenor have created AeroMobile, a new service that the companies say will make such calling routine for airline and business aircraft passengers.
Representatives from Arinc and Telenor are holding talks with “several” potential airline customers in preparation for demonstration flights of the service this summer. AeroMobile uses existing Inmarsat satcom hardware and special “pico cells” installed aboard the aircraft to route cellphone calls from the passenger compartment to satellites and then to ground cellular networks. The pico cells instruct the user’s wireless phone to operate at its lowest power setting, ensuring cockpit avionics are unaffected by callers’ cellular signals. The FCC is currently considering whether to lift the ban on airborne cellphone use.
AeroMobile calls would cost between $1.50 and $3 per minute for airline passengers, the companies have said. When Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband high-speed-data service makes its debut next year, the AeroMobile service will be expanded to offer passengers pay-as-you-go Internet access, the companies said. There was no word on what the airborne data services might cost.