Will passengers flying on business jets and airliners really ever be able to use their personal cellphones to make and receive calls in flight?
Lingering uncertainty about whether cellphone calls placed by airline passengers would cause interference with the cell system on the ground has prompted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to drop a longstanding proposal to relax the current ban.
As most of its customers know by now, AirCell no longer actively markets airborne cellular systems, mainly because new digital cellular technology is rendering much of its existing analog-based ground network obsolete–but that doesn’t mean the AirCell name is a misnomer.
Aircraft passengers should be able to use their own cellphones in flight safely and conveniently before the end of this year through a new service developed jointly by satellite operator Inmarsat, aircraft communication systems specialist Arinc and mobile telephone service provider Telenor.
Sweden’s Ericsson yesterday launched an airborne GSM base station intended to enable passengers to use their cellphones on board aircraft. Commercial availability is scheduled for the end of this year and the vendor is in “very detailed discussions” with some existing operators, said Christian Jansson, senior specialist for high-capacity networks.
Middle East air passengers can soon look forward to using their personal cell phones in flight. Mobile phone technology specialist OnAir of Geneva, Switzerland, will begin tests on the commercial use of mobile phones aboard TAP Portugal Airbus A321s later this year. According to OnAir CEO George Cooper, Gulf state airlines will likely be among the first to offer the service.
AeroMobile, a joint venture of Arinc and Telenor now planning the introduction of cellphone services for the cabin, last month announced that it is taking a “global role” in convincing communications regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Europe to allow the use of personal mobile phones after takeoff.
Even as a half-dozen companies are rushing to get FAA approval for systems that will allow the in-flight use of personal cellphones on business aircraft, other government entities have questioned cellphone use on airliners, citing security concerns. In December last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed allowing the use of cellphones on airliners and offered the usual comment period.
There is little evidence to support the idea that a single cellphone left on in a piece
As regulatory agencies in Europe and North America grapple with whether to permit the use of personal mobile phones in flight, the companies that intend to sell and market the services not surprisingly are trying to convince the world that the concept is perfectly safe, will not foster air rage as some have claimed and that the concerns in general have been overblown.
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